The Cubs may have had a tough weekend series against the Rockies, but boy did beating the Cardinals 5-0 really erase that negativity.
Tonight, they’ll try to make it two in a row against their rivals, and below is the lineup they’ll do it with.
Chicago Cubs Lineup v. Cardinals (Jaime Garcia)
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Jorge Soler, LF
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Miguel Montero, C
- Addison Russell, SS
- Jason Hammel, P
Some notable changes to the lineup tonight, as Ben Zobrist moves down to the sixth spot and Kris Bryant steps in ahead of Anthony Rizzo. Despite a still strong walk rate (13.6%) Zobrist has been a little cold over his last five games (.053/.136/.105), so the move makes some sense. He’d have been batting fifth in the typical “against lefty” lineup, so he’s a spot lower than we otherwise would have expected.
Moving up in the world (and the lineup) is left fielder Jorge Soler, who has been quite hot over his last five games (.250/.400/.500). Indeed, his strikeout rate for the season is just 17.8%, and he’s been smoking the ball when he does get a hold of one.
Every time Jason Hammel takes the mound, though, I get a little bit sad. Not because Hammel is pitching, mind you, but because Kyle Schwarber is not behind the plate. If you recall, Schwarber was expected to catch most of Hammel’s starts this year, but, as you know, his collision with Dexter Fowler will force him to miss the rest of the season (he’s now scheduled for surgery as soon as this week) – including valuable developmental time behind the plate. At least Montero has looked fantastic in his start to 2016: .281/.385/.469.
The Cubs will be facing Jaime Garcia tonight who, when healthy, can be a truly fantastic pitcher. His last time out, for example, Garcia pitched a one hit, one walk shutout over the Milwaukee Brewers and added 13 strikeouts in the process. On the season, he has a 2.40 ERA (1.39 FIP), an insane 33.9% strikeout rate and a relatively average 7.1% walk rate. Unlike the strategy last night against Mike Leake*, the Cubs may benefit from being patient, taking pitches and forcing Garcia out of the game as soon as possible tonight. For what it’s worth, Garcia is mostly split neutral.
*Leake loves to live in the zone, so the strategy Monday night was to do damage by putting the ball in play and hitting it hard. As it turns out, that’s exactly what the Cubs did in their 5-0 win over St. Louis.