Chicago Cubs Lineup (9/1/23, Game 2): Tauchman Leads Off, Candelario at 3B, Cuas Serves as Opener

The Cubs cruised in Game 1 this afternoon after getting off to a slow start, which is pretty much just like we called it. The win brought them to 10 games over .500 after being 10 games under earlier in the season, the first time they’ve ever made such a turnaround. The Reds appear to have hit a wall and they’re dealing with several injuries, but the Cubs are going to need a strong effort from the bullpen to get the W.

José Cuas has been activated from the bereavement list and will serve as the opener in this one, presumably giving way to a journeyman who was recently added to the 40-man roster. Since the last game he started way back on April 24, 2016, 34-year-old righty Shane Greene has racked up 67 saves for the Tigers, Braves, and Dodgers across parts of six seasons.

He’s bounced around quite a bit and has logged just 54.1 innings over 58 appearances since 2020, none of which have come this year, but the Cubs valued his experience and professionalism enough to bring him in on a minor league deal this summer. Greene has since made five starts for Triple-A Iowa, putting up a 2.16 ERA with 20 strikeouts and nine walks over 16.2 innings. All of the four earned runs he allowed came in one start on August 16, and he’s surrendered only 12 hits for the I-Cubs.

Never a big strikeout guy, he has a sinker/slider/cutter mix that he’ll deploy with almost equal frequency. The hard stuff sits around 91 and the cutter is just a couple ticks lower with the slider coming in around 80 mph. All the Cubs really need in this one is a little length to help them through the second half of the doubleheader, then they’re hoping Greene can help again next week to keep the rotation stretched out.

Ed. note: Or it’ll just be Drew Smyly as the bulk man.

Mike Tauchman gets the start in center, followed by Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ, Cody Bellinger, and Dansby Swanson in their regular spots. Seiya Suzuki has been on a tear since sitting against the Mets and he’s back in righty, then it’s Jeimer Candelario at third, Yan Gomes behind the plate, and Christopher Morel as the DH.

They’re facing 23-year-old Lyon Richardson, who started the season at Low-A and has worked himself up to the big club. This is just his third MLB start and he’s been roughed up pretty good in the first two with seven earned runs and six walks to five strikeouts in just 7.1 innings. Those starts came against the Nats and Angels, so not exactly offensive juggernauts.

Richardson has a big fastball that sits 97 mph but he’s had real trouble finding the zone with it so far. While some of that may be nerves, he’s always had big walk numbers in the minors and can be expected to hand out some free passes tonight. He managed to get around the walks by getting tons of strikeouts and avoiding homers, trends that have gone in the opposite direction so far.

The changeup is Richardson’s big secondary and he’ll throw the 88 mph offering about 27% of the time with arm-side run. His curve has been okay and he’s only thrown the slider twice, so there may not be much variety in this one. If he pitches like he did in his first two starts, the Cubs will rock him and push him out early. This kid has some legit stuff, though, so he could have a little something up his sleeve.

First pitch is scheduled for 5:40pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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