Chicago Cubs Lineup (5/5/23): Happy Mash Mervis Day, Steele Starting Series Opener

Happy Mash Mervis Day to all who observe. The slugging first baseman/DH has been called up to the bigs and will make his MLB debut as the Cubs return to Chicago fresh off an ugly road trip to Miami and D.C. Five of their six losses, including all three in Miami, came by a single run. With offense suddenly at a premium and several veterans failing to tread water, the front office finally caved to the increasingly loud cries from fans.

Okay, so Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins probably aren’t combing Twitter to see what everyone thinks. They may, however, have been looking at Facebook because an inordinate number of folks over there had been pushing back against the notion that the Cubs should be trying to improve the roster by adding players with much higher potential.

I’ve got some pretty serious competition in my race for president of the Merverts — we’ve even got t-shirts — but I’m probably a shoo-in for at least a cabinet position. As such, I have all kinds of confidence in the man’s ability to impact the Cubs in a big way. That doesn’t mean there won’t be an adjustment period, but he’s got a great deal of upside and I love his demeanor.

Mervis will be batting seventh this afternoon and he’s in a good spot between right-handed batters Trey Mancini and Patrick Wisdom. Nico Hoerner, Dansby Swanson, and Ian Happ are all in their usual positions, Seiya Suzuki is in right, and Cody Bellinger is in center. Mancini is the DH, Mervis is at first, Wisdom is at third, and Miguel Amaya is behind the dish.

Justin Steele got a no-decision against these Marlins on the last day of April because he allowed two whole runs on three hits and a walk over six innings of work. Believe it or not, that is his worst outing of the season so far. He only had three strikeouts in that one and you’d love to see him miss more bats, but Steele has been nails each time out.

Edward Cabrera faced the Cubs last week, striking out a career-high 12 batters over five innings en route to a win. The Cubs had plenty of traffic against him with five walks and three hits, however, and they figure to be able to put plenty of runners on again in this one. As long as they can avoid being baffled by his curveball, I have to think the results favor the home team in this one.

Cabrera will touch upper 90s with the four-seam and has an incredibly firm offspeed offering that sits 93 mph. That combo made up nearly two-thirds of his pitches against the Cubs, which is actually a little below his season average, but only the fastball had positive value between the two. The curve is his only pitch that has been consistently good and it figures to be on display again in this one.

No pitcher in baseball with at least 20 innings this season works in the zone less than Cabrera (31.1%), so the Cubs could conceivably go up there without bats and just force him to throw three strikes. The five free passes they drew last time against him don’t even represent his wildest game, as he walked six Mets in four innings before turning around and walking seven of them in 2.2 the next game.

Cabrera has also allowed at least one homer in each of his last three starts, two of which have come from left-handed batters. What’s interesting there is that he’s posting huge reverse splits, with righties putting up a .289 average and .416 wOBA while lefties are at .164 and .286, respectively. Maybe Mash will have something to say about that. I like the matchup of a patient power hitter against a wild, hard-throwing starter.

First pitch is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.

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