Chicago Cubs Lineup (3/21/24): Happ Leads Off, Cooper RF, Smyly Starting

The Cubs’ bats have been largely silent of late, so it’d be nice to see a little more offense now that we’ve entered the final week of spring games. Selfishly, I hope they save some runs for Friday and Saturday when I’m in Mesa for a brief trip.

Drew Smyly figures to be part of the rotation at least until Jameson Taillon is ready to return, and he is on the mound for this one. Justin Steele is going in the home half of Friday’s matchup, setting Smyly up to be the No. 5 starter. Smyly was shelled his last time out against KC as he allowed five runs on four hits, two of which left the yard.

The lefty did work deeper into the game and threw more pitches than he had previously, so getting him stretched out was a little more important than the results. That isn’t necessarily the case in this one, as the Cubs want to see him working with his full repertoire to get outs.

Update: Since they’ve already got three lefties in the rotation, Craig Counsell said Smyly will actually be in the bullpen to start the season. Jordan Wicks and Javier Assad will be in the rotation.

Ian Happ will lead off in left, then it’s Dansby Swanson at short and Michael Busch at first. Christopher Morel is at third, Dominic Smith is the DH, Garrett Cooper is in right, and Yan Gomes is catching. Miles Mastrobuoni is at second and Alexander Canario is in center.

Going for the Rockies is righty Ryan Feltner, a 27-year-old who has battled injuries and inconsistency while bouncing from the minors to MLB since 2021. Walks have been his biggest issue, but he’s limited the damage by keeping the ball in the field of play for the most part. Feltner’s 95 mph fastball has good ride and is typically in the zone, but his misses stay middle-middle for too much contact.

His firm slider is his best pitch and he throws it over a third of the time, often getting called strikes on the glove-side edge. The sinker will run in on righties’ hands but stays over the plate too often, then he’s got a very good changeup with big tumble and a curve that makes up around 9% of his pitches.

Feltner has decent stuff, he just doesn’t seem to know where it’s going most of the time. That has led to 156 hits and 68 walks over 147 innings, not a great combination when Denver is your home base. If the Cubs are going to bust out for a few runs, this seems like an ideal matchup.

First pitch from Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is at 3:10pm CT and will not feature either TV or radio broadcast.

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