Life is so much better, when the Cubs are winning. And tonight, they have a shot at ensuring yet another series victory. Here’s how they’ll line up for Game 2 against the Dodgers at Wrigley Field.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Daniel Descalso, 2B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Javy Baez, SS
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Willson Contreras, C
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Albert Almora Jr., CF
- Cole Hamels, P
Walker Buehler’s early season results this season have been atrocious (5.40 ERA). HOWEVA his 3.12 FIP nearly matches the 3.04 mark he posted last season, when his ERA was all the way down at 2.62. Point being, don’t underestimate him tonight.
With that said, this season, he is striking out fewer batters, walking slightly more, and allowing more than his fair share of hard contact. He is a beatable pitcher and the Cubs can beat him with the lineup they picked tonight.
Speaking of which, I think the most notable choice by Joe Maddon tonight is placing Albert Almora Jr. in center field. Obviously, his defense out there is excellent, but Cole Hamels has actually been a crazy-high ground-ball rate pitcher so far this season (57.5%). In fact, among all qualified starters, Hamels’ 26.0% fly ball rate is among the ten lowest in all of baseball. So Almora’s defense might not really come into play as much as it might on a different night.
More to the point, Walker Buehler may well be a reverse split righty for his career, usually the type of guys against which I like to see Almora start, but that trend has not held this season. Moreover, righties have still had a TON of trouble against him overall (.212/.278/.318), so it’s not like this is a great matchup for Almora, even in terms of tougher, development-type starts.
And again, if Almora’s defense figured to come more into play tonight, I’d understand it more, but as it stands … I don’t know. It feels a little forced. Remember, though, the Cubs bench is currently just Ben Zobrist, Mark Zagunis, and Taylor Davis, and Zobrist does need more rest than most. Maybe this was the only real option.
As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ closer to game time (7:05 CT).