Chicago Cubs Lineup (4/17/24): Happ Leads Off as DH, Mastrobuoni in LF, Wicks Looks for First W

Thank God, we’ve finally got another reasonable start time. These West Coast swings are truly the worst because you either stay up too late watching the carnage or you wake up to see the score and have to find out what the hell happened. And while the Cubs came out on the right side of Monday’s late-night affair, dropping a game in which they scored 11 runs outweighed the win by a fair margin.

The bigger picture here is that they’ve had to use every reliever over the last two games and have used six of them at least twice in the last four games. Not great when you’ve overworked the ‘pen and it’s only mid-April. That puts added pressure on Jordan Wicks to eat more innings than he’s been able to so far in three starts. The lefty has yet to make it through the 5th as he battles control issues that have driven his pitch count up each time.

He really needs to work in the zone to reduce the need for Craig Counsell to figure out which of his relievers can actually go tonight. It’ll help if the bats can make some noise early, though we have already seen how even big crooked numbers are no guarantee of victory.

Ian Happ is back in the leadoff spot and will serve as the DH in this one, then it’s Dansby Swanson at short and Cody Bellinger in center. Christopher Morel is at third base, Michael Busch is at first, Nico Hoerner is at second, Mike Tauchman is in right, and Yan Gomes is behind the plate. Miles Mastrobuoni rounds out the lineup in left.

They’re facing Brandon Pfaadt, who we all hope makes a sound like his last name when he’s on the mound. That’s been the case for him in his last two starts, with 15 hits leading to 11 runs over 11.2 innings. Pfaadt is a strike-thrower who can miss bats with his four-seam/sweeper combo and a sinker that bears in on righties, though he’s been wildly inconsistent thus far in his young career.

Last year saw him wallowing among the worst in the league in terms of fastball run value while his breaking ball value was in the 81st percentile. Through three starts this season, his fastball is in the 60th percentile and his breaking ball is in the 1st. Yikes. His sweeper is catching too much of the plate, making it a poor option even when Pfaadt is able to get ahead in the count.

Hitters should look to be aggressive against him because he’s thrown first-pitch strikes over two-thirds of the time so far. Then again, it may be wiser to sit back and wait on a mistake. Pfaadt’s fastball location has been really good and he’s generated a ton of week contact, so maybe taking advantage of that sweeper is the right play. His platoon splits are pretty even, though he tends to be a little worse when pitching at home.

That’s really all I’ve got for today because I’m still battling a lack of sleep from the last two nights. Staying up late to watch the Cubs won’t be an issue tonight, I just hope they’re worth watching at all.

First pitch is at 2:40pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

Back to top button