So the Cubs got beat badly yesterday and are on the bring of dropping three straight in the heat of a September divisional race … but it’s not all bad news.
Javy Baez is back in the Cubs lineup after a painful head-first slide into second base on Sunday, and Kyle Hendricks is starting on the mound after a really brilliant stretch of pitching dating back to the end of July.
Indeed, since returning from the disabled list, Hendricks has made eight starts and has given up three or more earned runs on just two occasions during that stretch (2.31 ERA). He’s giving up less hard contact than average and has gotten a fair amount of ground balls, to boot. On top of that, Hendricks has kept the ball in the zone (7.2%) and has struck out enough batters (22.2%) to keep it all together.
So, I guess, above all, he’s pitching well.
Opposing Hendricks tonight will be swing-man Steven Brault, who’ll make his first start of the season against the Cubs tonight. Brault, 25, did make seven starts with the Pirates last year, but has been mostly relegated to the bullpen in 2017 (six appearances in MLB). With that said, through his 20 starts at Triple-A this season, Brault has put up some impressive numbers: 1.94 ERA, 3.29 FIP. But he doesn’t strike many guys out and he can get wild at times.
So, in that case, the Cubs would be well-served by patience early on. If they can take enough walks and wear him down early, he’s a prime candidate to give a big inning. And, as we discussed in the lineup post earlier, he struggles mightily against right-handers. So let’s see if the Cubs lineup full of righties can do some damage.
Chicago Cubs (75-62) at Pittsburgh Pirates (66-72) – 6:05 CT on CSN-C, 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 (R): 3.32 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 3.99 xFIP; 2.69 K/BB
Pirates: Steven Brault (L): 5.93 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 5.58 xFIP; 1.50 K/BB
- Starling Marte, LF
- Max Moroff, 2B
- Andrew McCutchen, CF
- Josh Bell, 1B
- David Freese, 3B
- Jordan Luplow, RF
- Elias Diaz, C
- Jordy Mercer, SS
- Steven Brault, P
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Jon Jay, LF
- Albert Almora Jr., CF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Ben Zobrist, RF
- Ian Happ, 2B
- Javy Baez, SS
- Victor Caratini, 1B
- Rene Rivera, C
- Kyle Hendricks, P