Chicago Cubs Lineup (6/8/24): Wisdom Leads Off, Morel Bats Second, Brown Starting

First, let me apologize for the general lack of content here at the site lately. Between work and my son’s summer baseball schedule, it’s all I can do to slap these lineup posts together and edit recaps. On top of that, our Rundown writer, Michael Canter, recently underwent a very serious cardiac procedure and will be out of commission for a while. Oh, then there’s the fact that the Cubs haven’t been playing well enough to make churning out coverage of their exploits feel necessary.

Maybe Saturday will provide us with something to feel good about, whether it’s Ben Brown on the bump or a game in which the Cubs aren’t dealing with yet another injury. Brown was roughed up by these Reds at Wrigley last week in his first start after showing the Brewers without a hit for seven innings. Cincy collected six knocks, one of which left the yard, en route to five earned runs over as many innings.

Neither the fastball nor what had been the best curveball in the league were working in that start, which might be a good sign for this game. Being sharper, even if we’re not talking about the dominance of that start in Milwaukee, will mean Brown is bound to get better results this afternoon. He may have to if the Cubs can’t score many runs.

The home run ball has been almost exclusively responsible for the scoring in Cincy so far, with Seiya Suzuki and Christopher Morel hitting two-run shots Thursday and Dansby Swanson hammering a solo shot last night. Miguel Amaya’s double is the lone exception, and that one just missed going out by a couple feet. The Cubs have lost both games despite out-homering the Reds in both, which is not the way it’s supposed to work.

Of course, you’re not supposed to predicate your entire offense around the longball. That’s kinda what the Cubs are doing with Patrick Wisdom once again leading off at third base, this time followed by Morel as the DH. Cody Bellinger is in center, Swanson is at short, Ian Happ is in left, Mike Tauchman is in right, and David Bote is at second. Michael Busch is at first and Yan Gomes is the catcher.

Suzuki and Nico Hoerner are still out due to injuries suffered when they were hit with thrown balls, the former on a stolen base last night and the latter on a pitch in Thursday’s game.

They’ll be up against lefty Andrew Abbott, who was born exactly one day less than 20 years after me and then debuted on my dad’s birthday in 2023. The 25-year-old out of Virginia has logged 69 innings over 12 starts and did not face the Cubs in that previous series, though he does have a little experience against them from two starts last season. Swanson homered against him in one of those and the Cubs’ other dinger against Abbott came from current Red Jeimer Candelario.

The southpaw has been better than his peripherals indicate that he should be, with a 3.39 ERA against a 4.72 FIP and .246 BABIP against. Some of that is because his low walk rate has mitigated the damage from 12 home run allowed. He’s given up two homers in four different starts, a function of leaving too many mistakes in the zone.

Abbot’s 93 mph is somewhat pedestrian and tends to be up in the zone to the arm side, then he’s got a trio of secondaries that all make up 13-17% of his repertoire. The sweeper and curve are meh at best, without enough difference in shape and velocity to make them real weapons. His offspeed offering, on the other hand, is a changeup that works middle and sometimes up in the zone with similar arm-side movement to the fastball at around eight ticks less.

It’s not an elite pitch by any stretch, but it’s one that can keep opposing hitters off balance and help Abbott work around those inevitable mistakes. He won’t get many whiffs or strikeouts and he typically has to beat hitters with strikes because they don’t chase much, but he’s done a very good job of limiting hard contact. Even with all the homers, pitching to contact means he’s generated plenty of soft stuff as well.

We could all use a good game from the Cubs, preferably a blowout in which their big hits actually matter in the end. The good news either way is that it’ll be over earlier than the past two because it’s a 3:10pm CT start on MLB Network (out-of-market only), Marquee, and 670 The Score.

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