Chicago Cubs Lineup (7/9/24): Hoerner Leads Off, Morel at DH, Nido Catching

Believe it or not, the Cubs have won three of their last four games and have a chance to make it to the All-Star break with an even record. That would mean winning their next seven games on the road, with the first three coming against the AL’s best team, but it’s not impossible. Raise your hand if you think they can rattle off four wins in a row for just the third time this season.

Damn, there’s a decided lack of confidence out there.

It doesn’t help that the Cubs are up against an Orioles team that is 14 games over .500 with a lineup that includes a ton of homegrown talent and a few very nice veteran additions. I’m not convinced the Cubs have a chance this season regardless of how the next few games play out, but I do believe poor showings in Baltimore and St. Louis will have the front office firmly shifting into sell mode.

So with their season perhaps hanging in the balance, Craig Counsell will heed the wise words of Erykah Badu and call Taillon. Jameson Taillon, that is. The big righty has been excellent this year and might be among those the Cubs will field offers for, especially if he can keep up his sub-3.00 ERA against the O’s. With last year’s mechanical flaws behind him, Taillon is back to throwing strikes and limiting homers.

He’ll have to keep that up to help an inconsistent offense that isn’t often capable of giving him much support. Nico Hoerner can help if he gets going out of the leadoff spot, then it’s the diminutive Michael Busch at first and Cody Bellinger in center. Seiya Suzuki is in right, Ian Happ is in left, Christopher Morel is the DH, and Dansby Swanson is at short. Miles Mastrobuoni is playing in what should probably be Matt Shaw‘s spot, and Tomás Nido is the catcher.

They’re facing the best pitcher from Stockton, CA not named Dallas Braden, as Dean Kremer takes the bump for the home team. The first Israeli drafted by an MLB team, Kremer started out with the Dodgers organization in 2015 and joined the Orioles as part of the return for Manny Machado. He’s been slightly above average since debuting in 2020 and sits right in the middle when it comes to pitching value, but nothing really stands out.

Kremer’s 94 mph four-seam is fine and his 87 mph cutter is decent, same for his splitter, two-seam, and curve. While he strikes out just over one batter per inning, he allows a lot of hard contact and doesn’t get a ton of grounders. That has led to 10 homers in 55 innings, with at least one allowed in seven of his 10 starts so far.

The platoon splits are pretty even, though left-handed batters slug better against Kremer and have really hit him hard at home. That’s been the case this season, with huge home/road splits favoring the Cubs tonight. Not that such things have mattered in the past, as they tend to serve as a means by which opposing pitchers can even their numbers.

First pitch is at 5:35pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score. The Cubs could really used this one because they’ve got to face Corbin Burnes and Albert Suárez in the next two games. Then again, the Orioles have to face Shōta Imanaga and Justin Steele.

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