Update: Rain has forced a delay, more to come.
The Cubs snapped their skid with a big win over the Guardians on Friday that featured home runs from both players who bunted in Thursday’s loss. Any bigger implications will come out in the wash if they falter again here, but that W felt like something more than just one game. At the very least, it helped the Cubs keep pace with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh while gaining a game on St. Louis.
Marcus Stroman is on the mound in this one and is reportedly feeling no lingering effects from the blister that forced him from his start last Sunday in London. Well, that and Trey Mancini‘s defense. Stroman had looked like a Cy Young contender up to that point and still will if he bounces back tonight, though Justin Steele might have surpassed him after another dominant performance in yesterday’s win.
The offense made sure Steele’s performance wasn’t necessary, but things were a little easier against Cal Quantrill than they figure to be in this one. Nico Hoerner has been swinging a hot bat and he’ll lead off at second base in this one, followed by Christopher Morel in right and Ian Happ in left. Seiya Suzuki returns to the lineup as the DH, then it’s Cody Bellinger in center and Dansby Swanson at short. Jared Young is at first, the slugging Nick Madrigal is at third, and Tucker Barnhart is behind the plate.
They’ll be facing 24-year-old righty Tanner Bibee, a rookie who’s putting up pretty decent numbers through 11 starts. He’s won three of his last four starts and has authored a few outstanding performances so far behind a 95 mph fastball, a very strong slider, and a changeup that looks like his best pitch. Bibee’s curve has not worked well for him, which helps to explain his poor performance against right-handed batters.
The changeup’s effectiveness is a big part of why lefties are batting just .211 with a .277 wOBA, but righties are at .280 and .334 with five of the six homers Bibee has allowed. Left-handed batters do tend to see him better, however, and have drawn 16 of his 21 walks to outpace their right-handed counterparts when it comes to getting on base.
Though we’re talking about a pretty small sample of just 60 batters, Bibee has been destroyed by righties on the road. All five of those homers have come away from Cleveland and righties are batting .364 with a .456 wOBA when Bibee is the visitor. The Cubs may be able to wait him out and jump on mistakes, especially if he starts pressing, as Bibee has walked 11 batters over 20 innings in his last four starts.
Or maybe they can just pounce early and let Stroman pitch with a lead, which is what they tried to do his last time out. With ample rest between starts and momentum from the win, the Cubs could very well get another hot streak going. First pitch is at 6:15pm CT on FOX and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 1, 2023