Chicago Cubs Lineup (3/6/24): Hoerner Leads Off, Bellinger DH, Steele Starting

This one feels almost like a real game, especially with the return of Cody Bellinger to the lineup. After an evening affair in Surprise that featured no regulars, the Cubs are back at Sloan with a group comprised mostly of everyday players.

Nico Hoerner leads off at second, followed by Seiya Suzuki in right and Bellinger as the DH. Then it’s Christopher Morel at third, Dansby Swanson at short, Mike Tauchman in center, and Yan Gomes behind the plate. Dominic Smith handles first base and Miles Mastrobuoni is in left. Early indications are that Mastrobuoni, who still catches a lot of flak due to his slow start last year, will break camp with the big club due to his positional versatility.

On the bump for the Cubs is Justin Steele, who gave up two runs on as many hits and a walk over three innings in his first start. The lefty was just easing into Cactus League action, however, so there’s no need for alarm over these early results. Scheduled to follow Steele are Javier Assad, Adbert Alzolay, Héctor Neris, Yency Almonte, and Carl Edwards Jr.

This will be a matchup of southpaws as the Angels send 24-year-old Reid Detmers to the mound for the second time. He gave up two runs of his own on two hits in that first effort, though he departed after just 1.2 innings because his pitch count was inflated by four walks. Detmers has ratcheted up his velocity in each of the last three seasons, which is pretty impressive for a guy who has worked exclusively as a starter. Certainly helps to have youth on your side, huh?

Largely a fastball/slider guy, he’ll mix in the curve around 20% of the time and will toss in some changeups and sinkers situationally. The fastball sits around 94 and could be a much better weapon if he figures out how to command it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a location heat map without even a pixel of darkest red, yet that’s exactly what Detmers produced last year.

He works mainly up in the zone with a little glove-side run and could probably benefit from just a little less cut. Being able to stay more arm-side with the heater might make the slider play up even more, and we’re already talking about a nasty pitch with good sweep and depth. The big issue with the fastball is that the inability to bust left-handed batters inside was a big part of Detmers’ reverse splits last season.

Lefties slashed .294/.378/.504 against him and struck out 40% less often than their right-handed counterparts. I wonder if trying to eliminate some of that fastball cut or upping his sinker usage is a point of emphasis for him this season. Perhaps we’ll get a chance to find out this afternoon.

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

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