Chicago Cubs Lineup (7/2/24): Hoerner Leads Off, Nido Catching, Wesneski Starting

The Cubs have played 85 games and lost 46 of them, so we’re deep enough into the season to declare them a bad baseball team. Misfortune has had more than its fair share to say about that, particularly when it comes to pitcher injuries, but you invite more bad luck into the mix when you assemble a roster of good to very good players without any elite ones. Now the Phillies come to Wrigley as a shining example of what the Cubs could or should be.

The good thing for Hayden Wesneski is that he won’t have to face Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, or J.T. Realmuto on Tuesday night. This is just his second start in nearly two months, but he got stretched out to 72 pitches against the Giants and should be able to give his team at least four innings again as long as he avoids the longball. Wesneski was throwing strikes last time out, he just hung too many and was punished for it.

Missing those big bats takes a lot of punch out of a lineup that hasn’t been hanging as many runs over the last month, but the Phillies are still more potent than the Cubs. Even at full strength, the North Siders’ 92 tallies in the last 30 days rank 28th in MLB. Maybe things will finally change in this one.

Nico Hoerner leads off at second, followed by Michael Busch at first and Cody Bellinger in right. Seiya Suzuki is the DH, Ian Happ is in left, Christopher Morel is at third, and Dansby Swanson is the shortstop. Pete Crow-Armstrong patrols center and Tomás Nido rounds things out behind the plate.

They’re up against rookie Michael Mercado, who is making just the second appearance and first start of his big league career. Originally selected 40th overall by the Rays in the 2017 draft, the 25-year-old was traded to the Phillies last November and made his debut eight days ago with an inning against the Tigers. Currently ranked as the org’s No. 30 prospect, Mercado missed a lot of time early in his career due to elbow reconstruction and the pandemic.

He has a mid-90s fastball that can get near triple digits to set up a low-90s cutter and low-80s curve. His issue to this point has been control, as his walk rate has been well into double digits over the past two seasons. That’s something the Cubs could exploit if adrenaline has Mercado struggling to find the zone. On the other hand, they could be in for a long night if he gets a little more juice and his stuff plays up.

First pitch is at 7:05pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

Back to top button