Chicago Cubs Lineup (7/18/23): Same Top 3, Mancini at 1B, Taillon on Mound

Update: This will be taken well.

The Cubs have dropped three of four to open the second half and have now dropped four straight to the Nats after beating them the first time these teams squared off earlier in the season. Things are pretty ugly on the North Side at this point and they have been since the start of June when it comes to a team-wide offensive slump. When Cody Bellinger is the only regular on the team who’s hitting, it really doesn’t matter who bats where.

That has been doubly true when Jameson Taillon takes the mound, though he looked great the last time out in New York and now has a chance to continue the turnaround. Everything was working for him against the Yankees, with the fastball and curve looking particularly good relative to what we’d seen previously. If Taillon can do that again, especially with the hard stuff, he should be fine against the Nats.

The offense came around late in Monday’s game, so maybe they can carry some of that momentum into this one and beyond. David Ross is going to let shortstop Nico Hoerner hit his way out of it at the top of the order, then it’s Seiya Suzuki in right and Ian Happ in left. Bellinger is in center, Yan Gomes is the DH, Christopher Morel is at second, and Trey Mancini is at first. Miguel Amaya handles the catching duties and Patrick Wisdom is at third.

They’ll be facing Patrick Corbin, who hasn’t pitched well since his first season in Washington as he struggles with consistency. The big lefty is striking out batters at a career-low 15.2% rate and will give up his share of base hits, with 135 allowed across 108.2 innings. That total includes 17 homers, 12 of which have come in six games.

Corbin is exactly the kind of pitcher who could help the Cubs put together a get-right game, but he’s still got flashes of ace potential in him now and again. It really comes down to whether the sinker and slider are working, because those two pitches account for 77% of his repertoire. His 92 mph sinker isn’t a bowling ball and typically ends up in the middle of the zone, with the gyro slider working the low end just a little to the glove side.

He four-seam cuts a little to run in on righties and his change tends to stay arm-side with a lot of tumble, but neither has been good for him this year. Or ever, really. For Corbin to be successful, he’s got to get ahead with first-pitch strikes so the slider can really work. Only four qualified pitchers throw start batters with a strike more than Corbin (68.9%), but he doesn’t miss many bats.

The Cubs need to go up there looking to attack early in the count and they need to keep the pressure on so their hits aren’t in vain. Corbin has given up seven or more knocks in 13 of his 19 starts this season and he’s surrendered at least three in the others. And unlike some of the other pitchers we’ve profiled lately, he’s been destroyed by right-handed hitters. There’s no excuse to not hang crooked numbers tonight.

First pitch is at 7:05pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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