The Cubs are starting a new series tonight. I hope they win all the games. Here’s their lineup for game 1 in Pittsburgh against the righty Joe Musgrove.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Jason Heyward, CF
- Nicholas Castellanos, RF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Javy Baez, SS
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Jonathan Lucroy, C
- Kyle Hendricks, P
- Tony Kemp, 2B
For his career, Joe Musgrove has carried pretty significant lefty/righty splits, and those splits have only widened this season:
LHH v. Musgrove: .290/.331/.517 (.351 wOBA)
RHH v. Musgrove: .232/.294/.410 (.296 wOBA)
While it’s true that righties (7.4%) walk a fair bit more than lefties (3.9%) against Musgrove, the gap in their strikeout rates (24.1% and 16.9%) is enormously in favor of left-handed hitters. And given the difference in slash lines, it’s really no contest.
So naturally both Ian Happ (who could be at second base (I wouldn’t take out Nicholas Castellanos, obviously)) and Victor Caratini are on the bench tonight.
I know Tony Kemp is a lefty with his own traditional splits, but we’re talking about the difference between a 78 wRC+ (vs. LHP) and an 82 wRC+ (vs. RHP) this season. Point being: he really shouldn’t be starting over anyone, let alone Happ, who’s slashing .242/.359/.545 (131 wRC+) against righties this year.
And this isn’t even really an “Ian Happ” thing. It’s more of a “Tony Kemp isn’t a starter, so stop treating him like one” thing. There’s no doubt in my mind that this week’s worth of frustrating games are making me a little more … eh hem … antsy than usual, but, well … start winning games on the road and maybe I’ll stop second-guessing everything as much (I mean, I won’t … but it’s a nice thought, isn’t it?).
As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (6:05 CT).