Chicago Cubs Lineup (6/6/24): Tauchman Leads Off, Suzuki DH, Assad on Bump

The Cubs have now won two games in a row, and both actually count as full games despite coming against what could be the worst team in baseball’s modern era. As odd as it sounds, I think there may even be merit to the fact that they had to come back in both games against the White Sox. After looking downright somnambulant for a few weeks, showing a little heart and fight was a sight for sore eyes.

Now back at .500, they have a chance to stack a few wins against another last-place team in the Reds. Javier Assad pitched more than well enough to get a win when he squared off with this team on the last day of May, tossing 5.1 innings with seven strikeouts and just two earned runs on five hits. However, the bullpen gave up three and the Cubs dropped the game.

The one troublesome aspect for Assad was his spotty control, which led to three walks for the fifth time in 12 starts. He had three in his previous start in St. Louis and five in the game before that against the Braves. Though he managed to keep the Reds in the yard after two homers allowed in each of those two other starts, his pitch count suffers when he’s not throwing strikes consistently.

Even with the bullpen suddenly pitching pretty well, it would be nice to give that unit a break in the first of a four-game set. You know what would help? Scoring a bunch of runs early for a change and letting Assad cruise.

Mike Tauchman scored the Cubs’ last run and will try to score their first as the leadoff hitter in right, then it’s Seiya Suzuki at DH and Cody Bellinger at first. Christopher Morel is at third, Ian Happ is in left, Nico Hoerner is at second, and Dansby Swanson is at short. Pete Crow-Armstrong patrols center and Miguel Amaya is the catcher.

They’re facing Hunter Greene for the second time in less than a week, so there may be a slightly higher level of familiarity than usual even with a division rival. That’s good for the Cubs hitters because Green is doing a better job of learning how to pitch rather than just being a hard thrower and he did a pretty good job of shutting them down last time.

That might not look like the case based on his five earned runs allowed, but he really only made one costly mistake on a middle-in fastball to Suzuki. The resultant grand slam tied the game and made up for the right fielder’s botched catch earlier in the game. Now, Greene did walk the bases loaded to set up the dinger and he issued five free passes with as many strikeouts over six innings.

One of those tied a season high and the other a season low, so we can view that either as a trend — Greene only struck out five Dodgers in his previous start — or a sign that the Cubs are in for a battle. Greene also hit two batters, both in the 3rd inning to set up the other run he allowed on a Hoerner single, and may have been hampered by the soggy conditions.

The hard-throwing righty has been quite a bit worse in Cincy so far this season, with left-handed batters giving him a lot more trouble than they do on the road. Despite a .233 average that sits 21 points lower than their righty counterparts, lefties have a .359 OBP and .411 slugging percentage that are 55 and 59 points higher. That leads to a .341 wOBA that includes all three of the homers Greene has allowed at Great American Ball Park.

Even with that Suzuki homer, Greene’s fastball was working pretty well in that last game. His slider, on the other hand, was pretty terrible. That pitch has been very inconsistent this year, leading to a -3 run value that puts Greene in the 19th percentile for breaking balls. As good as that 98 mph heater can be, his wobbly slider often puts him in situations where hitters can just sit dead red.

It would be nice to see some dead Reds, figuratively of course, out there tonight as the Cubs try to add another win to their modest little streak. First pitch is at 6:10pm CT on MLB Network (out-of-market only), Marquee and 670 The Score.

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