Chicago Cubs projected lineup, starting rotation, bullpen & closer
We initially released our prediction for the Chicago Cubs opening day 26-man roster a little over a month ago. Since then, things have changed slightly on all fronts. Seiya Suzuki's injury is problematic, and his Opening Day status is now questioned. His potential absence leaves a big hole to fill and allows someone to make the roster that wouldn't otherwise. Elsewhere, certain pitchers are performing at higher levels than others. In the bullpen, we misfired on the Andrew Chafin/Matt Moore prediction, and there are, in fact, other changes to the pen to mention in terms of current projections.
Granted, it is still very early in spring training, and these lists are subject to change daily. Still, It's essential to keep circled who's been exceeding expectations and underperforming, especially for guys already on the bubble for making the roster. Let's look at these predictions now, starting with the lineup.
Chicago Cubs projected lineup for 2023:
1. Nico Hoerner, 2B
2. Dansby Swanson, SS
3. Ian Happ, LF
4. Cody Bellinger, CF
5. Trey Mancini, DH
6. Eric Hosmer, 1B
7. Nick Madrigal, 3B
8. Christopher Morel, RF
9. Yan Gomes, C
Suzuki's name not appearing here is significant. In his place, I expect the Cubs to try out Christopher Morel and Zach McKinstry at RF. Morel appeared in 57 games last season where he played center field, accumulating 112 putouts, four assists, and three errors, suitable for a .975 FPCT. On the other hand, McKinstry has appeared in 27 games in his big league career in RF, recording a 1.000 FPCT dating back to 2020. As for Nick Madrigal making the cut, he has appeared in only one game, but so far, the experiment at 3B has been alright. He recorded back-to-back assists with solid throws to the first baseman to start the game Saturday against the Dodgers and knocked in an RBI single in the second inning.
Where we initially had Suzuki pegged for the clean-up spot, It would be nice to see Bellinger find his swing in spring training and be able to depend on him in that role. Nobody else provides much pop at that spot unless you water down the start of the lineup and move Happ or Swanson there. Nevertheless, we need to find something to be optimistic about regarding Suzuki. He won't be out forever, and the good thing is we're still nearly a month away from Opening Day. Worst-case scenarios don't cripple the Cubs for too long into the regular season.