Chicago Cubs Lineup (4/10/24): Happ DH, Mastrobuoni 2B, Hendricks Starting

Now that’s how you bounce back from a stinker of a collapse on Monday. The Cubs got out to another lead and held it Tuesday night to even the series in San Diego. Those of you who were subjected to the TBS broadcast may not have even made it to Christopher Morel’s blast because of either the late hour or Bob Costas’s brutal commentary.

The legendary broadcaster is well past his prime and mispronounces names like Harry Caray once did, just without the Bud-drenched charm. So Moral, who’s apparently a rookie, had a big hit and Adbert Al-ZO-lie shut things down. Woof.

Kyle Hendricks takes the ball tonight for the series win and just needs to keep the ball in the yard to give his offense a chance against a very strong opponent. The Cubs’ bats have been exceptional so far and should be able to win plenty of games even when the pitching isn’t on point, but no reason to make that the case.

Ian Happ will DH and once again lead things off for the Cubs tonight. He’s followed by Seiya Suzuki in right, Cody Bellinger in center, Christopher Morel at third, and Michael Busch at first. Dansby Swanson is playing short, Mike Tauchman is in left, Miguel Amaya catching, and Miles Mastrobuoni is at second.

On the bump for the Padres is former Cubs prospect Dylan Cease, who was traded to San Diego by the White Sox during spring training after much ado about his eventual destination. He’s managed just 10.2 innings in two previous starts, with the shorter durations coming as a result of high pitch counts. It took Cease 85 pitches to complete 4.2 innings in his Padres debut and 102 to get through six the last time out.

That’s kind of how it works for strikeout guys, though, and Cease looks pretty much like the same pitcher he’s always been. He’ll miss a lot of bats and get into deep counts, but what’s always been his saving grace is that he doesn’t give up homers despite giving up a lot of contact in the air.

He’s kind of middling in terms of batted ball metrics he allows, so it’s a matter of keeping hitters from getting hard-hit flies. Lots of liners, though. The fastball will get on hitters at 96+ mph, then comes the power slider at 88 mph. He’s thrown both of those pitches 81 times this season and has used them pretty evenly over the last three seasons.

The curveball is more of a show-me pitch that he’ll mix around 15% of the time, then there’s a split-change that he throws very sparingly. Again, it’s all about the four-seam and sweeper.

That combo allows Cease to dominate right-handed hitters by alternating up and in with down and away. His splits are very evident, with righties batting .207 and reaching base at a .295 clip against him. Those marks are about 40 points below what left-handed batters have managed over the last several years. The sample is too small to matter, but holding righties to an .050/.130/.100 slash is pretty good.

The Cubs will need to be either very aggressive or very patient against Cease in this one, whether it’s jumping on early fastballs or spitting on sliders. Or maybe the need to wait on cement mixers. This team has shown itself capable of grinding down opposing starters and Cease is the kind of pitcher who can rack up a lot of pitches early.

First pitch is at 5:40pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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