Chicago Cubs Lineup (7/5/24): Let’s See If They Can Shake Fireworks Hangover

The Cubs scored 10 runs yesterday for the first time since an 11-12 loss to the Diamondbacks on April 16, a span of 70 games. They now have a chance to win back-to-back contests, something they’ve not done in just over two weeks, and there are few better teams to face than the Angels when it comes to aiding that task. At 36-50, the Halos are once again putting together a putrid season in SoCal.

Mike Trout is out for this one, so we don’t even get the excitement of novelty over the weekend. His absence will also make it feel that much worse should the Cubs fumble the bag like they have so often since getting out to a decent start, but let’s not worry about such things right now.

Justin Steele is on the mound in search of his first win this season, which is pretty incredible even considering how poorly the Cubs have played this season. The Angels are just above the middle of the pack when it comes to wRC+ (104) and wOBA (.318) against lefties, making this less of a pushover than it might seem otherwise. Steele has gone at least six innings in each of his last five starts and has limited opponents to three or fewer earned runs in each, so he should keep the Cubs in it even if the hot bats don’t carry over.

Nico Hoerner leads off at second base and Michael Busch is back on the two-hole, followed by Cody Bellinger in center and Seiya Suzuki in right. Ian Happ mans left, Christopher Morel is the DH, Dansby Swanson is at short, and Miles Mastrobuoni gets a rare start at third with Tomás Nido behind the plate.

On the bump for LA of Anaheim is 28-year-old Griffin Canning, a righty who’s in his fifth season with the team. Canning has pitched more than 100 MLB innings just once, in 2023, as he’s bounced between Triple-A and the bigs while also dealing with a stress fracture in his back that cost him the 2022 season. His previous results were okay at best as he struck out roughly one batter per inning with elevated home run rates and a 4.58 ERA that fell slightly above his expected numbers.

Canning’s strikeout numbers have dropped precipitously this season, however, and his walks have stayed about the same. He’s pitching to contact with a 94 mph fastball that ends up in the middle of the zone too often to be effective consistently. His changeup is an excellent pitch that stays arm-side at a very firm 89 mph, which explains why he’s upped its usage to around 27% this season. It’s been close to 33% over the last eight starts and has approached 40% in some of those, making it something to look out for this afternoon.

The slider and curve make up roughly 36% of Canning’s repertoire, though neither is a weapon as he sits in the fourth percentile for breaking-ball run value (-6). He’s going to make his share of mistakes today and the Cubs need to take advantage when he does. With 16 homers allowed in less than 94 innings, including 10 dingers in his last nine starts, Canning could be exactly who the Cubs need on the mound to keep their momentum rolling.

First pitch from Wrigley is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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