Chicago Cubs Lineup (3/15/23): Madrigal Leads Off, Slaughter DH, Kilian Starting

The Cubs are back at it with another late start that, apologies to those of you whose love for baseball is so strong that you’d prefer all games lasted six hours, offers solid evidence in favor of the pitch clock. Nothing will stop the constant litigation of the new rules, but I do think we’ll see things settle down a bit once everyone gets used to the new pace. It may feel a little more rushed now because not all the players are comfortable, something that will change over time.

Caleb Kilian is not someone who should be feeling his way around the clock since he got familiar with it in the minors. One thing he lost familiarity with last year, however, was his control. He quickly wore the shine off the hyped he developed in the previous offseason and has worked to clean up his mechanics this year. Getting over a bout of knee tendinitis didn’t hurt.

Kilian has made one start in two previous appearances this spring and he’s allowed one run (a solo homer) with two strikeouts and no walks. That lack of free passes is big, even if it’s only in four innings of work. He’s been passed up by Hayden Wesneski and Javier Assad when it comes to cracking the rotation, but it’s a long season and there will be opportunities for Kilian to get another shot at the bigs soon enough.

Supporting Kilian is a lineup that feels a lot like something we saw at the start of Cactus League play. Nick Madrigal bats leadoff and plays third base, followed by Tucker Barnhart behind the plate and Edwin Ríos at third. Mike Tauchman is in right, Chris Morel is in center, David Bote is at second, and Zach McKinstry is in left. Jake Slaughter serves as the DH and Sergio Alcántara is the shortstop.

The Cubs are facing 29-year-old righty Connor Overton, who looked good in six appearances (four starts) for Cincinnati last season. The same can’t be said for his spring performance, though he has lowered his ERA over each of three appearances to its current 14.85 mark. Giving up six runs over 1.1 innings in his first outing dug a pretty deep hole. Overton has allowed a homer and at least four runs in each of his appearances so far, surrendering 15 hits and walking two over 6.2 innings.

I’d say this has all the makings of an offensive outburst, but it’s just as possible the Cubs are shut out with two hits. First pitch from Goodyear Ballpark is set for 8:05pm CT on Marquee Sports Network.

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