Chicago Cubs Lineup (4/27/24): Stock-Standard Starting 9, Brown on Bump

The Cubs walked all over the Red Sox in the series opener and now they’re looking for another win to run their streak to five games. It’s going to be even more of a youth movement in this one as Ben Brown takes the mound for his third MLB start and seventh overall appearance. He’s only logged three total innings in his last two outings, so maybe don’t expect him to go deep this afternoon.

Nico Hoerner leads off at second, Mike Tauchman is in right, Ian Happ is in left, and Christopher Morel is at third. Michael Busch is at first, Dansby Swanson plays short, Matt Mervis is the DH, and Yan Gomes is catching. Pete Crow-Armstrong bats last in center.

Opposing them is 25-year-old righty Josh Winckowski, who drew the ire of Cubs fans as a rookie when he defamed Wrigley Field. He had just taken the loss following a strong performance and wasn’t too kind when assessing the venerable ballpark.

“A little underwhelming,” Winckowski told Chris Cotillo of Mass Live in 2022. “Fenway kind of has a presence to it. I really didn’t get that here, to be honest. I said to my mom last night, this place is very stock standard, if you ask me. I didn’t really feel anything, to be honest. It kind of just felt like another ballpark.”

Winckowski finished that rookie season with a 5-7 record and a 5.89 ERA over 15 appearances, 14 of which were starts. He worked almost exclusively out of the bullpen last season, starting just one game out of 60 total outings, and had a 2.88 ERA to show for it. This will be his second start out of nine appearances this year, so he’s probably destined for an early hook as well.

In his first start last week against Pittsburg, Winckowski lasted 3.1 innings with one run allowed on three hits. He had just one strikeout with no walks, but has put up 18 Ks in 15 total frames. Just like the Cubs saw last night from Kutter Crawford, Winckowski leads with his cutter and throws his hard stuff nearly as often. He’s a little more focused with his pitches than his counterpart and will live up and on the glove-side edge with the breaking stuff.

Winckowski also throws a sinker rather than a four-seam, so he’s down in the zone far more often than Crawford was, plus he’s got a slider rather than a sweeper. And where Crawford threw a splitter to open up the arm-side portion of the zone, tonight’s starter uses a changeup. The Cubs will see a little more velo tonight, with the sinker sitting 95 mph and the very firm change coming in way above average at 92 mph. The cutter is 90 and the slider is 86.

That slider has been Winckowski’s best pitch by far this season and he throws it about a quarter of the time, so it might be best to avoid falling behind in the count. Though he doesn’t get a ton of swinging strikes, he works the edges well and can make hitters pay for spitting on what they think are bad pitches. This doesn’t figure to be a game the Cubs win with power, so it’ll be a matter of forcing Winckowski to throw a lot of pitches by being patient and attacking mistakes.

First pitch from Fenway is at 3:10pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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