Chicago Cubs Lineup (2/24/24): Tauchman Leads Off, Mash DH, Shaw 2B, Smyly Starting

The Cubs rode an early outburst to their first Cactus League win yesterday against the White Sox and now they look to extend their winning streak to two against the Giants. It’s a decidedly different lineup than what we saw on Friday, though that’s to be expected as the exhibition slate gets going. In fact, there are only two players from the first game starting again in this one, and both occupy the same spots in the order.

Mike Tauchman leads off in center, followed by Nick Madrigal at third base and Patrick Wisdom at first. Matt Mervis bats cleanup again, this time as the DH, then it’s Jorge Alfaro behind the plate, Miles Mastrobuoni at short, and Kevin Alcántara in right. Brennen Davis plays left and Matt Shaw bats ninth at second base after collecting two hits in the opener.

We haven’t seen either Gold Glove infielder yet, nor has Seiya Suzuki played. Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson have been in camp for a while though and neither has anything to prove at this point, so it’s a good time for Craig Counsell to see what he’s got. Speaking of which, I’m keeping an eye on Mervis and Shaw.

Many felt the trade for Michael Busch and the recent pickup of Dominic Smith on a minor-league deal were signals that the Cubs lacked faith in Mash. Maybe that’s the case, but I think Counsell is going to give the organization’s 2022 Minor League Player of the Year every opportunity to earn a spot at either first or DH. As for Shaw, the Cubs want to test him against high-level pitching to see where he’ll start the season and how quickly they need to elevate him.

On the bump to start this one is Drew Smyly, who will be showcasing the new “splutter” he developed with the help of the folks at Driveline over the offseason. He may have two different splitter variations, the most interesting of which gives him a pitch with arm-side fade that can keep hitters off his curve. A dark horse to earn back a spot in the rotation, Smyly could be very dangerous if this fourth pitch — curve, cutter, sinker — is legit.

The Giants are sending Logan Webb and his elite changeup to the mound for his first outing of the spring. Based on both Statcast and Pitch Info, Webb’s offspeed offering generated far more value than any other similar pitch last year. The two next-best changeups combined — Merrill Kelly, Blake Snell — only edge Webb’s results by around two runs saved. That’s wild.

Because of his great changeup, Webb’s results were much better against left-handed hitters in 2023. Watch to see whether he’s throwing it a lot this afternoon as part of his standard repertoire or if he opts to work on some other pitches out of the gate.

First pitch from Scottsdale is at 2:05pm CT on Marquee Sports Network.

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