Tonight, the Cubs can move up to 12 games over .500 for the first time this season, sweep the Pirates, and, effectively, ruin Pittsburgh’s tiny remaining chances at winning this division.
Here’s the group that’ll try:
- Jon Jay, CF
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ian Happ, 2B
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Javy Baez, SS
- Rene Rivera, C
- Jose Quintana, P
Tonight’s Pirates starter, Ivan Nova, has had a pretty good year, results-wise (3.97 ERA), but has shown signs of trouble behind the scenes (4.39 FIP). He doesn’t really walk many batters (like, at all), but he doesn’t strike anyone out, either (15.8 K%).
And perhaps most importantly, he’s really struggled against left-handers. This season, Nova’s allowed a .354 wOBA against lefties, while his FIP shoots up to 5.30. Worse (or, better, I guess), his strikeout rate shrinks to just 10.9% (!) when a lefty steps up to the plate. That’s really quite awful.
Given that the Cubs are primarily left-handed tonight (all but Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Rene Rivera, and the pitcher), I’d say the offense should be in good shape for this one. Expect a lot of balls in play, and just pray the BABIP gods are smiling down upon us.
As for the lineup particulars, other than the catcher swap of Rivera for Alex Avila (and the subsequent move down in the order), there’s not much different tonight. Jay resumes his leadoff duties, as Ben Zobrist gets the night off, Jason Heyward sticks out in right, after recording four hits in the past two days, and Javy Baez is still at short as Addison Russell works his way back from injury in the minors.
As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ closer to game time (7:05 CT).