The Cubs got the London Series off to a rousing start on Saturday with a beatdown of the Cardinals behind big offensive output and a gem from Justin Steele. Now they sent Cy Young contender Marcus Stroman to the mound with a chance to run his quality-start streak to eight straight. Good day for a sweep, innit?
I’m having a pint in a pub to prepare for the game and wasn’t initially going to type out the lineup, but the little wrinkles made it worthwhile. David Ross is shifting Nico Hoerner to the leadoff spot with a lefty on the mound, then it’s Seiya Suzuki in right and Christopher Morel in center. Dansby Swanson is at short, Ian Happ is in left, and Trey Mancini is at first.
That’s probably more about getting Mancini a start in London because Cody Bellinger actually hits lefties better and Mancini has looked pretty rough lately. David Ross noted in his pregame media session that Bellinger is feeling a little under the weather as well. Miguel Amaya is the DH in this one, Nick Madrigal is at third, and Tucker Barnhart is catching. Though Barnhart isn’t hitting well and doesn’t have a great matchup, he’s become Stroman’s favorite catcher and the two have combined for tremendous results this season.
Going for the Cards is lefty Matthew Liberatore, who was a late change after scheduled starter Jack Flaherty was scratched due to a hip issue. Liberatore has spent most of the season in Triple-A, but this will be his sixth MLB start of the year and seventh overall appearance. He’s got a 6.12 ERA in that time, a number than isn’t the product of bad luck.
With just 18 strikeouts in 25 innings, this dude isn’t missing many bats. He’s also surrendered 27 hits and has walked 12 batters, so anything close to those trends today means the Cubs will have plenty of traffics on the bases. Mainly a fastball/curve guy, Liberatore hasn’t located well enough to let his secondaries play. His slider and change combine for only about 15% of his offerings and both been meh, though the sinker he throws 17% of the time has at least gotten positive value.
The one thing he’s done well is keep the ball in the yard, though the Cubs have proven they don’t need to hit homers to put up big offense. Here’s to hoping they hang several crooked numbers and leave London at the .500 mark for the season.
First pitch is at 9am CT on ESPN and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 25, 2023