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Cubs vs Twins: Lineups, Pitching Matchup, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs got their much needed day of rest yesterday, after taking the finale against the Cardinals on Wednesday night. Tonight, they begin a nine-game road trip against the Twins, Astros, and Phillies, before heading back home to Wrigley Field. Here’s a look at the Chicago Cubs lineup for the first of three games against Carlos Correa and the Twins at Target Field.

Chicago Cubs Lineup:

  1. Chris Morel, 2B
  2. Dansby Swanson, SS
  3. Ian Happ, LF
  4. Cody Bellinger, CF
  5. Seiya Suzuki, RF
  6. Patrick Wisdom, 3B
  7. Matt Mervis, 1B
  8. Trey Mancini, DH
  9. Yan Gomes, C

(1) With a day game tomorrow (1:10 CT) following the night game tonight (7:10 CT), (2) with Yan Gomes poor offensive track record against Sonny Gray, and (3) with Sonny Gray’s pronounced lefty/righty splits this season favoring left-handed hitters, I would not have been at all surprised to see Tucker Barnhart in the Cubs lineup tonight instead of Yan Gomes.

But that’s not what David Ross did! And I’m digging it.

Especially because Drew Smyly has had way more success with Gomes calling games (1.48 ERA over 24.1 IP) than Barnhart has this season (5.79 ERA over 14.0 IP). In addition to being the better back stop (as far as we can tell from the outside), Gomes has been smacking the crap out of the ball lately and got a day off yesterday. Expect Barnhart tomorrow, but for tonight, this is a good call.

Also a good call? Eric Hosmer is not starting despite those lefty/righty splits. You’ll note that Gray’s career splits are more normal/neutral (more on that below), but he changed his pitch mix dramatically this year, so there’s at least some reason to believe this season’s numbers are the new norm (in terms of lefty/righty success).

Also ALSO a good call? Chris Morel leading off! Like, what happened, did the BN comment section get ahold of the Cubs lineup card tonight? If so, nice work.

The bad news here is that Nico Hoerner is not back in the lineup, and has, ultimately, hit the injured list. The medium news is that can be backdated three days, so we might just go a week without Hoerner. That’s certainly not ideal, but it does give Morel an opportunity to play every day and shine. More on the roster moves in a minute.

Minnesota Twins Lineup:

  1. Byron Buxton, DH
  2. Donovan Solano, 1B
  3. Carlos Correa, SS
  4. Kyle Farmer, 3B
  5. Jorge Polanco, 2B
  6. Willi Castro, RF
  7. Michael Taylor, CF
  8. Christian Vázquez, C
  9. Nick Gordon, LF

Pitching Matchup:

Chicago Cubs: Drew Smyly, LHP

Drew Smyly’s last start (against the Marlins at Wrigley Field) wasn’t his best start, but it wasn’t as bad as it looks on paper: 3.1 IP, 3H, 2ER, 3BB, 5K. He wasn’t his sharpest – clearly – but a 30-pitch first inning didn’t set him up for much success. And despite that, he still managed to net 5 whiffs and 5 strikeouts and allowed only one hard-hit ball (unfortunately that was a home run to Jorge Soler). Point here being, I think he’s still fine. He’s been rocking for most of the season, and that’s what I expect tonight against a Twins team that has struggled quite a bit against lefties (79 wRC+, 26th in MLB).

Notable Matchups:

  • Solano: 4-12, 3K
  • Farmer; 3-11, BB, 4K
  • De Aza: 1-9, 3K
  • Correa: 1-8, 2BB, 2K

Minnesota Twins: Sonny Gray, RHP

The players in this Cubs lineup are no strangers to Sonny Gray, who spent a few years in the division with the Reds. But we also may be seeing the best version of Gray yet. Over seven starts this season, Gray has allowed just SIX earned runs (uh, wow), while amassing 47 strikeouts in 40.0 IP. That is incredible. The only upshot in the results here — from the Cubs perspective — is that four of those six earned runs came in the last two games against the Guardians and Royals (hardly two offensive powerhouses …).

So you can get to him. Lefties have been particularly effective against Gray this season, though he’s usually split neutral (or reverse split) for his career.

He’s really tweaked his offerings this year, throwing way more cutters and changeups and way fewer four-seamers and sinkers. So maybe that explains it? Either way, it’s working for him overall, so it’s hard to criticize.

Notable Matchups:

  • Mancini: 7-15, 2 2Bs, HR, 2BBs, 3K
  • Gomes: 2-14, 2B, 6K
  • Happ: 4-10, 2B, HR, 2K

Broadcast Info:

Chicago Cubs (18-19) vs Minnesota Twins (21-17) at 7:10 pm CT on AppleTV+, 670 The Score

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami