The Cubs head into this weekend series losers of five straight and back in last place in the NL Central. They’re only a half-game out of the race for a bottom-three record and just a game and a half behind Oakland for the second-worst mark. Imagine how quickly they could find the bottom had they actually traded Willson Contreras and Ian Happ. Yikes.
Justin Steele was supposed to have started Wednesday in St. Louis, but rain canceled those plans and the team opted to move him back a couple of days. Was that a matter of giving him a softer landing against a lesser team? Maybe it was a matter of letting him head home a little earlier to spend time with his newborn son. Whatever the case, the lefty will be on the bump this afternoon.
Steele has been very good on the season and his last five starts represent perhaps his best stretch ever. He’s allowed just six earned runs over 26.1 innings, giving up just one homer and striking out 26 batters. The only real blemish is that he has walked 13 in that stretch, which, combined with 23 hits, means a lot of baserunners and added pressure for a defense that let him down the last time out.
Rafael Ortega is batting leadoff playing center today, Willson Contreras is DH, Patrick Wisdom is at first, Ian Happ is in left, and Nelson Velazquez is in right. Yan Gomes is catching, Zach McKinstry is at third, Christopher Morel is in center, and Nick Madrigal is at second.
First pitch from Wrigley is set for 1:20pm CT and you can bet on a very noisy ovation when Contreras steps to the plate for the first time. Happ should receive one as well, though the emotions don’t run quite as deep there and few seemed to clock the idea that he was almost gone as well. You can tune to Marquee Sports Network or 670 The Score for all the action.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 5, 2022