Cubs vs. Marlins: Series Thread (Games 32-34)
The Cubs get a quick rematch against the Marlins, who swept them on the road to end the month of April. This time, the Cubs are reinforced by designated hitter and first baseman Matt Mervis, who is likely to make his MLB debut, and catcher Miguel Amaya, who debuted on May 4 collecting his first MLB RBI on a sac fly but still in search of his first time reaching base safely. See below for the matchups in this weekend series at Wrigley.
Game 32, Friday, May 5, 1:20 pm central
MIA: RHP Edward Cabrera (2-2, 4.67 ERA)
CHC: LHP Justin Steele (4-0, 1.49 ERA)
Cabrera worked around some command problems in the first inning and collected 12 strikeouts to defeat the Cubs on April 29. He looked nigh untouchable from the second inning on, commanding his mid-90s fastball and mixing it with a plus curve and plus changeup.
Steele has continued an extremely strong run while generally staying under the radar. He went six innings in a no-decision on April 30, allowing three runs, two earned, and striking out three. It was his least dominant start of the season so far. However, he continued to start batters with a strike the majority of the time and has continued to get solid chase and swinging strike rates even despite collecting fewer strikeouts than in previous starts.
Game 33, Saturday, May 6, 1:20 pm central
MIA: RHP Bryan Hoeing (0-1, 6.23 ERA)
CHC: LHP Drew Smyly (3-1, 2.83 ERA)
Hoeing had a much improved second start of the season , going five innings and allowing two earned runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out four and allowed no homeruns.
The Nationals aided Smyly in a relatively quick and easy seven innings by putting the ball in play a lot. Smyly collected only two strikeouts in his seven innings of work, but also walked none and allowed only six hits, with the only run scoring on a solo homer. The Cubs offense and bullpen couldn't provide enough support to get him a win. When the Nats swung at pitches in the zone, they made contact 100% of the time. Smyly responded by throwing his four-seamer less than 30% of the time and going primarily to his curve and fairly frequently to his cutter.
Game 34, Sunday, May 7, 1:20 pm central
MIA: RHP Sandy Alcantara (1-3, 5.09 ERA)
CHC: RHP Hayden Wesneski (2-1, 4.45 ERA)
The Cubs dodged Alcantara last time around. 2023 has gotten off to a bit of a rough start for the righty, who has been dominant in the past two seasons and topped 200 innings in each, a rare feat of late. This season is command has been a bit off and he's allowed slightly more contact in the air compared to when he's at his best. His fastball is coming in as hard as ever, and he still features a strong changeup he goes to about a quarter of the time.
Like Smyly, Wesneski had a hard time sneaking the ball by the Nationals' lineup without allowing contact. He went six innings while also allowing only one earned run, collecting only two strikeouts on the way. Pitch tracking says he threw his changeup over 15% of the time, by far the most of any of his starts so far.