The Chicago Cubs have scored five or more runs in six straight games, averaging a total of nearly nine runs per game. Yeah, that’ll do just fine. And as we discussed earlier, Jason Heyward has been a huge part of that. He’ll be out in right field for the Cubs tonight, and I’m anxious to see if he can keep the good times rolling.
With Heyward out in right field, that also means that we’ll see Albert Almora back in center field once again. In the lineup post, we discussed how much playing time Almora has been given, and with his early, but positive results at the plate that doesn’t figure to slow down soon.
Starting for the Cubs tonight is righty Kyle Hendricks. Brett has already discussed his early season struggles, diminished velocity, and potentially awry mechanics, so be sure to give that post a read if you’re looking for more background on his slow start to the year.
For what it’s worth – and that’s not much considering the extremely small sample – lefties have crushed Hendricks this season (.411 wOBA), while he’s held righties to almost nothing (.266 wOBA). The Pirates are starting 4 left-handed (or switch-hitting) batters tonight, in the form of Josh Bell (S), Gregory Polanco (L), John Jaso (L) and Alen Hanson (S).
Opposing Hendricks is another former star-pitcher who’s gotten off to a slow start, Gerrit Cole. After making just 21 starts last season (3.88 ERA), Cole has had a rough start to 2017. However, much of the damage (4.70 ERA) has come from a probably unsustainable 19.2% HR/FB ratio. I say probably because that’s obviously unusually high, but to be fair, he’s allowed roughly 9% points more hard contact and 7% points more fly balls this year than in years past. That’ll conspire to add up to some extra homers.
Hopefully that’s just what happens tonight: 6:05 CT. Tune in.
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Chicago Cubs (11-8) at Pittsburgh Pirates (8-11) – 6:05 CT on WGN, 670 The Score
Game Thread and Series Preview
Your game thread is down in the comments, so let’s have some good, clean (safe-for-work) fun today.
Cubs: Kyle Hendricks (L): 6.19 ERA, 5.84 FIP, 4.11 xFIP; 1.86 K/BB
Pirates: Gerrit Cole (R): 4.70 ERA, 4.86 FIP, 3.86 xFIP; 3.17 K/BB
Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup:
- Josh Harrison, 3B
- Josh Bell, 1B
- Andrew McCutchen, CF
- Gregory Polanco, LF
- Francisco Cervelli, C
- John Jaso, RF
- Jordy Mercer, SS
- Alen Hanson, 2B
- Gerrit Cole, P
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Addison Russell, SS
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Willson Contreras, C
- Kyle Hendricks, P
- Albert Almora Jr., CF