This is a strange feeling. Not bad cubs. No, this is the normal arrangement. Absolutely normal. No, the strange thing is…how unfamiliar I am with the Cubs List. I feel like we’re up against a team in the MLS. I’m relatively familiar with rolls so I’m not completely blind, but for bad AL teams there’s usually one or two starting position players I’ve never heard of, and certainly at least one starting pitcher, and there’s like four guys. On the list I heard about but had no idea they were signed there.
According to Roster Resource on Fangraphs, the Cubs currently have two starting lineup players I’ve never heard of. The starting quarterback is apparently someone named Christopher Morrell, who has 135 WRC+ from his first 15 games. It is not considered one of the top ten prospects by Fangraphs. They also have Anthony Rizzo’s replacement, Alfonso Rivas, who has 78 WRC+ through 35 games. Fangrave ranked 43rd. Yes, 43.
And then there’s the player I wouldn’t have known had I not been a Cardinals fan, like Patrick Wisdom – he still does what he does 40% of the time and is somehow an above average hitter. I think Frank Schwendel made national headlines, but he has 79 wRC+ across 188 protected areas, so he’s back on the ground. He was in the Cardinals Junior League system for two years, but now 31-year-old Rafael Ortega is still doing his bit, earning Rs 100+.
The “Wait, is the Cubs?” Get ready because this is a long list. We all know about the overpriced free dealerships Marcus Strowman and Seiya Suzuki, as well as Wade Miley’s dealer selection over the Reds. But unless you’ve seen one Cubs game this year – and I admit I haven’t – I’d be surprised to learn that they’ve acquired David Robertson, Mychal Givens, Daniel Norris, Drew Smyly, Yan Gomes, Jonathan Villar and Chris Martin Andrelton Simmons and Sean Newcomb. I am very familiar with all of these guys, and there is no evidence that they have gone to the Cubs. You won’t see many of these names this weekend: Suzuki, Miley, Gomes, Villar, Smyly and Newcomb are all on the hit list. Martin is on the bereavement list, but we’ll likely see him at some point.
Thursday – 7:05 PM
Keegan Thompson (1.58 ERA / 3.49 FIP / 3.75 xFIP) vs. Matthew Liberatore (3.72 ERA / 4.18 FIP / 4.88 xFIP)
Thompson’s numbers are impressive, but he hasn’t been on the rotation all year. It only started three times. But he did 40 innings because in each appearance, he faced no fewer than 10 hits. His 2021 and 2022 book is a great example of why K% is superior to K/9. Last year Thompson had 9.28 K/9 and this year he has 7.88 K/9. But he has the same K% as last year. Because last year, 12.8% of speculators passed, and this year only 7.8%. Thompson in his current form gets more than 50% of the globes. It would be somewhat unusual for the 27-year-old to suddenly become such a good bowler, but so far he has been.
Cubs do not have much left-handedness. Rivas and Jason Hayward are the only left-handers in the starting line-up and could be replaced by right-handed hitters Frazier and Andrelton Simmons. So the Liberatore, whose weaknesses were said to have been against right-handed hitters, has something of a test.
My Choices – Cardinals
Friday – 1:20 pm
Marcus Strowman (3.95 ERA / 3.65 FIP / 3.48 xFIP) vs. Miles Mikulas (2.67 ERA / 3.40 FIP / 3.82 xFIP)
The Cardinals faced Strowman three times. They encountered him at the start of his seventh career in 2014 – he played 6 rounds of 1 running ball with 7 Ks – and then it wasn’t until last year, when he was with the Mets. He did well on both starts, allowing for two earned rounds in each. Although the first time he only lasted five years and also allowed two unearned rounds. I point this out because Strowman does a very similar show to his standards and there’s nothing new to add.
We’ll see if Mikulas has any negative effects from throwing 115 throws in a match – not the easy 115 throws Adam Wainwright recently did. I say this because I feel the next start will be influenced by these games. I may be wrong. He might make a great show. He’s taking on a good opponent to get back on track.
My choices: Cardinals
Saturday (Game One) – 12:20 PM
Matt Swarmer (1.50 ERA / 5.97 FIP / 3.76 xFIP) vs. Packy Naughton (3.09 ERA / 3.57 FIP / 2.43 xFIP)
I actually have no idea who is starting any of these games. ESPN lists Swarmer as starting in Game 1. You might be wondering “Who the hell is this?” – I will tell you. A 28-year-old drafted by Cubs who made his MLB debut last Friday. It was a good start. But that’s not the usual route for a good MLB novice, so I hope the cards ruin his stats a bit.
And whether or not Packy Naughton starts Game 1 or Game 2, I’d be surprised if neither starts. Just because it’s his turn and he’ll go a long way toward explaining why he started on Monday. He’s also done well enough to try again, although as a double header he might be expected to actually be a starting player and not just go first through the rankings. So we’ll see.
My choices: Cardinals.
Saturday (Game Two) – 6:15 PM
Daniel Norris (5.82 ERA / 5.67 FIP / 3.61 xFIP) vs. Andre Pallante (1.07 ERA / 3.42 FIP / 3.68 xFIP)
So both are what you might call educated guesswork. Unless they add someone to their 40-player roster for Saturday, they’ll have no one to start the second game. They have two starters on 40 players at the Palace – one not yet playing this season and one that was introduced in early May. Daniel Norris threw 42 throws on Monday in a losing attempt, so it looked like they were guiding him to start on Saturday. He probably won’t last 5 times, but he might throw 60-70 throws.
The same goes for Pallante. The Cardinals appeared to have warmed up well early on, as Ballante delivered three rounds and 44 runs on May 26. Four days later, he threw 53 throws. On Saturday, he will be on a four-day break – a normal rest for players – so it would make sense for him to start one of the two games. He should be able to throw up to 70 throws in reality. Saturday will be a lot of fun for both teams.
My Choice: Cards
Sunday – 6:00 pm
Justin Steele (5.40 ERA / 3.22 FIP / 3.80 xFIP) vs. Adam Wainwright (2.75 ERA / 3.63 FIP / 3.90 xFIP)
If Steele was right-handed, I might as well ignore his ERA and expect a game with a better tone than you think. This may still be true. But it’s left-handed and poses better than you think it doesn’t really mean much. He allowed six earned runs in 5 innings of action last year – in a double header I think.
Fortunately, the Cardinal had a day off on Monday, but Wainwright was still expected to take on a lot of turns—and throw a lot of pitches—starting with 115 throws. Honestly, Mikolas has the hottest start in the series – he’ll need to figure out a way to throw the roles – but Wainwright might not have much to do with it.
My choices: Cardinals
Oh wow sweep five games? Do you really think the Cardinals would do that, Gabe? Hear the voice in my head, the thing is, my fingers don’t let me pick the cubs. I start well. Type C. Then I’m like Jim Carrey in Liar Liar trying desperately to say his pen is red. My fingers understand that it is important to have dignity. Few things are more important than my expectations.
Single game prediction: 12-12
Prediction Series: 4-3