The Cubs have a chance to win this series tonight, and that would be enough, but they’ll have to go through a tough pitcher in Sonny Gray to get there, and do so with a struggling offense with Adbert Alzolay on the mound. Let’s see.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
1. Ian Happ, CF
2. Kris Bryant, 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
4. Javy Baez, SS
5. Willson Contreras, C
6. Jason Heyward, RF
7. Cameron Maybin, LF
8. David Bote, DH
9. Nico Hoerner, 2B
I want to start by pointing out a notable absence: Jason Kipnis.
The Cubs relatively hot second baseman has not started in the field since the finale against the Cardinals, taking DH duties in game 1 versus the Reds before sitting out on back-to-back nights. Obviously, that could mean nothing at all, but I will point out that both righties he missed, last night’s starter Trevor Bauer and tonight’s starter Sonny Gray, are not reverse split guys or anything like that.
With that said, Kipnis’ is just 2-15 with 5Ks and a homer against Gray lifetime, so maybe it’s as simple as a bad matchup following a rest day or two. I’m not trying to make a story where there isn’t one, but I will be anxious to see if he’s in there tomorrow against Brewers righty Brandon Woodruff.
In other matchup/absence news, Kyle Schwarber is out of the lineup tonight, and has previously gone 3-11 against Gray with 3 strikeouts, plus a double and a triple. Maybe this is further evidence that the Cubs just don’t like Gray v. their lefties. I really don’t know.
(Of course if it were about historic matchups, you probably wouldn’t want to see Jason Heyward (1-16, 5Ks), Javy Baez (1-10, 6Ks), or Anthony Rizzo (0-7, 2Ks, BB) either. Someone’s gotta play.)
Other than that, Kris Bryant is back and batting second, Heyward is back and batting sixth, Cameron Maybin is covering left field for Schwarber, David Bote is the DH, and Hoerner is at second base. Let’s see if this is enough to take down Gray and the Reds, which could effectively end their season.