Travis Wood closes things out today against young stud Gerrit Cole. Each team is looking for the series win, but, for the Cubs, it would be their first of the year. So, they need it more (hashtag narrative).
Check out that lineup, which features both Mike Olt and Junior Lake in there against a righty. Now, before you go claiming that Ricky Renteria is overreacting to a couple homers last night from Olt and Lake (or before you go saying, “See! RR understands that you’ve got to play the youngsters no matter what!”), keep this in mind:
- Gerrit Cole career versus righties: .251/.299/.341
- Gerrit Cole career versus lefties: .251/.301/.330
The sample is sufficiently small that it could be a fluke, and he’s pretty much been great against everyone (keep that in mind today). But, as you can see, Cole has no platoon split. If you’re going to pick a day to start the young righties against a righty, today’s the day. This is contrasted strongly with some of the righties the Cubs have seen already this year who are particularly tough on righties and susceptible to lefties (like Charlie Morton, twice).
Today is also the debut of Junior Lake in center field for the Cubs. He looked rough there last year (but was brand new), reportedly played well there this Winter, looked good enough in Spring, and then looked fantastic defensively in left in the first week of games. Medium-term, I still really would like to see what Lake could do in center, though I completely understand why he hasn’t started there yet this year.
My only gripe about the lineup is that I don’t love the consecutive lefties up there and consecutive righties down there, but it’s a pretty minor complaint when you consider that the goal is to score runs early, making the bullpen games later on less effective (and it’s not like RR doesn’t have bench options of his own).
Today’s lineup is emblematic of what I love about this roster: I hate not seeing Luis Valbuena in there against a righty … but I couldn’t tell you where I would start him. There’s no spot for him today, and that’s a great sign.
Pittsburgh Pirates (5-3) at Chicago Cubs (3-5), 1:20 CT on WGN/MLBN.
Game Thread and Series Preview
The Game Thread lives here. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.
Gerrit Cole (2.57 ERA, 5.10 FIP, 4.16 xFIP; 1.50 K/BB)
Travis Wood (4.26 ERA, 3.71 FIP, 2.48 xFIP; 8.00 K/BB)
Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup
1. Starling Marte, LF
2. Jose Tabata, RF
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
4. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
5. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
6. Tony Sanchez, C
7. Neil Walker, 2B
8. Clint Barmes, SS
9. Gerrit Cole, P
Chicago Cubs Lineup
1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B
2. Ryan Kalish, LF
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
4. Nate Schierholtz, RF
5. Junior Lake, CF
6. Starlin Castro, SS
7. Mike Olt, 3B
8. Welington Castillo, C
9. Travis Wood, P