Chicago Cubs Lineup (6/2/24): Hoerner Leads Off, Bote at 3B, Brown Starting

The Cubs got me an early birthday present with a wild, wet win over the Reds in the wee hours. It’s fitting that two of the players who’ve been among the most maligned during the recent spate of poor play were the ones most responsible for the offense Saturday night and Sunday morning. If both Seiya Suzuki and Dansby Swanson can use their performances as springboards, things are going to look much brighter in June.

For now, I’m just hoping they look brighter in central Indiana this afternoon because I’m going to be at a baseball tournament. After sitting through a constant drizzle last night, a little sunshine would be very nice. Given everything I’ve got going on today, this will be a rush job.

Ben Brown is on the bump for the first time since tossing seven no-hit innings against the Brewers in a game the Cubs still nearly gave away. He’ll try to further solidify his case to remain in the rotation this afternoon against a Reds team that sits 28th in baseball with an 81 wRC+ against righties. The best curveball in the game will be in full effect today.

Nico Hoerner is leading off at second for a righty-heavy lineup, followed by Suzuki in right and Bellinger in center. Christopher Morel has graded out as possibly the worst defensive third baseman in the league, so he’s at DH. Patrick Wisdom is at first, Ian Happ is in left, Swanson is the shortstop, David Bote was just promoted and will make his first appearance since 2022 at third base, then it’s Miguel Amaya at catcher.

They’re facing Nick Lodolo, a big lefty who has struggled with injuries over the past two seasons but is now back to full health and looking very good. The southpaw features a 94 mph fastball with a lot of cut, though he can get into trouble with it when he leaves it in the nitro zone. His slurve — Statcast says it’s a curve, other services say slider — comes in around 81 mph and gets lots of whiffs and called strikes. He also throws a firm change that stays arm-side and up in the zone, which hasn’t been effective despite the different look.

I can’t find anything on his offspeed grip, but I’d guess it’s more of a Vulcan or other form of modified split that he just doesn’t have a good feel for. He throws it about 17% of the time, so it’s actually a fairly significant part of his repertoire even as little more than a show-me pitch. We already talked about the Cubs starter, but look to see if Brown throws a few more offspeed pitches today as he continues to gain confidence.

Lodolo has dominated left-handed batters so far, though he’s only faced 31 of them as managers play the matchups. All four homers he’s given up have been to righties, which is more a function of volume. The one thing I’d point to as a potential opening for the Cubs is that the dude is a strike-thrower who will give up hits if he’s not at his sharpest. If he happens to be on his game, however, it’s a matter of waiting him out to get to the bullpen.

First pitch is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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