Chicago Cubs Lineup (6/10/22): Morel Leads Off, Heyward in RF, Miley Returns to Face Rizzo’s Yankees

The Cubs have been off for two days and had Monday off prior to their lone game in Baltimore, so they should be well rested as they face the Yankees this weekend. Not that it’ll matter against the best team in baseball that features several dangerous hitters and what might be MLB’s best pitching staff. Outside of the reunion with Anthony Rizzo, this has the potential to be very un-fun.

Wade Miley has been activated from the IL to make this start, which firms up both the rotation and Jed Hoyer’s plans for the trade deadline. The lefty has been solid on the whole, sandwiching one excellent start between two ho-hum affairs. He has yet to allow a home run on the season and his near 60% groundball rate is great, but that is going to be tested in a big way tonight.

Christopher Morel will try to give Miley an early cushion as he leads off in center, followed by Willson Contreras at catcher and Ian Happ in left. Frank Schwindel is at first with Patrick Wisdom across the diamond, then it’s Rafael Ortega at DH and Nico Hoerner at short. Jason Heyward is in right field yet again and Nick Madrigal is at second.

I just don’t get it. For more on that, here’s an update on all the roster moves the Cubs made Friday.

They’ll be going up against Luis Severino, who is one of the most underrated pitchers in the game. That’s mainly because he’s hardly pitched since signing a $40 million extension prior to the 2019 season. He logged just 18 total innings over three seasons due to rotator cuff, lat, elbow, and groin injuries but has bounced back to tally 55 innings in 10 starts this year.

Severino’s velocity is still up over 96 mph, which is down a little from his pre-2018 days of averaging almost 98, but his changeup is actually coming in harder at over 89 mph. His slider is down a couple ticks as well and it’s still a very good pitch even if it’s not the incredibly dominant offering it once was. As you can probably guess, the fastball/slider combo makes Severino tougher on righties.

What’s really odd, however, is that left-handed hitters are actually better against him on the road despite having the advantage of that short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. That might just be a function of timing because the numbers are more even for his career.

I would typically advocate for an aggressive approach against someone who appears to be a strike-thrower without many walks, but Severino gets a lot of swings on pitches that aren’t necessarily strikes. While his 32.9% O-Swing is only 45th in MLB (min. 50 IP), his 14.2% swinging-strike rate is 8th in the league. His 14.3% called strike percentage, however, is tied for 74th.

In a nutshell, he’s looking to establish that fastball in order to set up the slider for whiffs. If the Cubs can lay off that wipeout pitch, they may be able to force him back into the zone with heat. That’s not nearly as easy a task as it sounds.

First pitch from the Bronx is set for 6:05pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.

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