Two teams that may already be looking to the future conclude their three-game series Sunday afternoon when the Chicago Cubs go for a sweep over the visiting Miami Marlins.
The Cubs have used strong pitching mixed with a dash of power hitting to record 2-1 and 4-0 victories the last two days in games that featured a total of just 26 hits.
On the same day that the club designated preseason projected starting shortstop Andrelton Simmons for assignment, Nico Hoerner demonstrated why the Cubs trusted the current roster enough to make the move by registering three hits in Saturday’s win.
Now in his fourth major league season, Hoerner improved his average to .298 with his 3-for-4 outing.
That’s the type of production the Cubs had hoped to get from Simmons this season after signing him in free agency in March. But after hitting just .173 in 34 games while battling shoulder issues, the 11-year veteran was cut from the roster Saturday.
“There’s no room for him, to be honest,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “This year hasn’t gone the way any of us expected.”
Hoerner will attempt to get his average over .300 when he faces Marlins left-hander Jesus Luzardo (2-4, 3.97 ERA) in the series finale.
The 24-year-old returned from a strained left forearm to throw five innings of three-hit, two-run ball in a 3-1 home loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Monday. He was limited to 81 pitches in his first outing since May 10.
He will be facing the Cubs for just the second time in his career. He allowed five runs in five innings in a 14-10 home win last August.
Luzardo has never faced Hoerner, but they do have one thing in common: Oakland. Luzardo pitched his first 2 1/2 seasons for the Athletics, beginning in 2019, which was one year after Hoerner, who grew up in Oakland, was drafted by the Cubs out of nearby Stanford.
The Cubs are expected to counter with righty Adrian Sampson (0-2, 3.74), who is coming off a 4-0 road loss to the San Francisco Giants last Sunday in which he allowed four runs in four innings.
He’s never faced the Marlins in his career.
Like Justin Steele and Drew Smyly the last two days, Sampson will be seeing new Marlins outfielder Peyton Burdick for the first time.
Burdick went 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts in his major league debut on Friday before singling to left field for his first big-league hit in his first crack at Smyly on Saturday.
“To get that first hit, that’s a good thing. Get that monkey off your back. Don’t let that thing grow game after game,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said afterward. “To be able to do that I think is going to be big for him, and then we just let him play.”
–Field Level Media