Chicago Cubs Lineup (3/23/24): Hoerner Leads Off, Amaya DH, Brown on Bump

The Cubs are in their final weekend of spring training and have only three more exhibition games left after this one, so it’s all about setting things up for Craig Counsell. The manager’s plans took a literal blow on Friday afternoon when Justin Steele wore a sharp comebacker in the leg, but it sounds like the lefty won’t miss anny time. He may have to slot back from his Opening Day assignment, so that’s something to monitor.

Getting another strong performance from Ben Brown in his final outing of spring training would be nice. The big righty has worked multiple innings in each of his appearances so far and this will be his second start in a row after going four innings against the Angels a week ago. He has allowed only one earned run on eight hits and has nine strikeouts to four walks over 10 innings.

There were concerns about how his stuff might play without the pre-tacked ball being used for a while at Double-A last season, which is part of the reason for his aggressive promotion to Iowa after just four starts. Though his 5.33 ERA will tell some folks he struggled to make the adjustment, Brown maintained big strikeout numbers and showed a lot of promise.

He also had to battle through an injury that saw him assigned to the bullpen for the latter part of the year. That could be a precursor of things to come, as the Cubs might see fit to bring him up to cut his teeth as a reliever. Much of that is on how Brown performs at Triple-A this year, but some is also on how Cade Horton does.

Supporting Brown is a lineup that looks similar to what we’ll see on Opening Day, starting with Nico Hoerner at second and Seiya Suzuki in right. Cody Bellinger is in center, Chris Morel is at third, Dansby Swanson is at short, and Michael Busch handles first. Yan Gomes is catching, Mike Tauchman is in left, and Miguel Amaya serves as the DH.

On the hill for the Brewers is old friend Wade Miley, who we can all hope is over the hill as well. This will be the 37-year-old’s first Cactus League appearance because he’s been slowed by shoulder and groin soreness. The Brewers have very little rotation depth after trading Corbin Burnes and losing Brandon Woodruff to shoulder surgery, so they’re not taking their chances with Miley.

Since he’s thrown just three innings in two simulated games thus far, it’s hard to see Miley going much more than two in this one. He may also be working on nothing other than throwing strikes and reaching a pitch count, which should be good for the Cubs even if it’s not indicative of what he’ll bring during the season.

Not that we should really wonder about that since we know it’ll be a bevy of cutters and changeups. Miley has never been a hard thrower and he won’t miss a ton of bats entirely, but he does of a good job of getting weak contact and keeping the ball on the ground. Even if he’s able to maintain something close to his solid career production this year, having him as a workhorse atop the order isn’t a good sign for Milwaukee.

First pitch from Sloan is at 3:05pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.


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