The Chicago Cubs lineup is finally back to full strength with the return of Seiya Suzuki and Dansby Swanson. Suzuki, who missed only 11 games due to an injury, returns to the cleanup spot and right field, while Swanson is back in his usual spot on the diamond and in the batting order. The Cubs lineup is now lengthened significantly, increasing their odds of success on any given night. They will face off against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Justin Steele on the mound for the Cubs and former ace Noah Syndergaard pitching for the Dodgers.
Suzuki’s and Swanson’s Return
Suzuki’s injury at the beginning of Spring Training had the Cubs fearing a lengthy absence, but his faster-than-expected recovery and a rainout shortened his time away from the team. With his return, the Cubs now have a critical piece of their offense back in the lineup. Swanson’s return also adds length to the lineup and gives the Cubs a better chance at success.
On the mound for the Dodgers is Noah Syndergaard, who signed a one-year deal with the team this past offseason. While his fastball velocity remains a far cry from his peak, former aces like Syndergaard have a knack for pulling out a gem at any given start. For the Cubs, left-hander Justin Steele has gotten off to a great start this season with two straight quality starts, striking out 11 batters and allowing just one earned run through his first 12.0 IP.
While some Cubs hitters have struggled against Syndergaard, including Yan Gomes and Cody Bellinger, Swanson has had success against him in the past, going 8-18 with a double and four strikeouts. Hosmer and Gomes will also look to improve their numbers against him. The Dodgers have been strong against left-handed pitchers this season, with a 123 wRC+, so Steele will have his work cut out for him.