While it’s true for all outdoor ballparks that the weather can be a factor, there truly is not a baseball stadium that can play so differently day-to-day than Wrigley Field.
Thus, when we’re looking ahead to this afternoon’s Cubs-Marlins Game One, I want to know what kind of conditions we’re gonna be looking at, and how that might impact performance and lineups.
First off, it’s expected to be a cool, early Fall-type day at Wrigley, with temperatures in the low-60s at first pitch and then falling from there. Whether an artifice of the wind correlating with temperature or whatever, we already know: the cooler it is at Wrigley Field, the less well the ball travels. Also: it always feels a lot cooler at Wrigley than the actual temperature, so if you aren’t used to playing in the upper-50s, you might be a bit affected today. Just sayin’, Marlins.
Ah, but the wind. That’s obviously the main factor at Wrigley Field, and today is supposed to be pretty extreme, with 20 mph sustained winds and gusts hitting 30 mph. That’s the kind of wind that can completely change a fly ball, keeping a crushed shot in the park, or sending a pop fly into the stands. Directionally, the early check had it blowing out to right:
That’d be wind.
Flags will be pulled tight toward the RF corner – winds 15-25mph gusting as high as 30-35mph at times.
Gametime temp ~64º
— Cubs Weather (@cubsweather) September 29, 2020
That means it could be a good day for the lefty bats, and a good day for the pitchers to keep it on the ground.
To that end, we know that Kyle Hendricks keeps his groundball rate elevated – at 47.1%, he’s got the 16th highest groundball rate among qualifying pitchers in baseball this year. Although it’s much higher against righties (53.7%) than lefties (40.3%), that’s still not terrible for the lefties who’ll be trying to pull it out. Plus, thanks to his changeup/sinker pairing, Hendricks has a much higher strikeout rate against lefties (24.4%) than righties (15.9%).
Sandy Alcantara, however, is also a big-time groundball pitcher: he didn’t have enough innings to qualify, but if he did, his 49.1% groundball rate would’ve been 13th in baseball. The good news for a Cubs lineup loaded with lefties? His groundball rate against lefties is a paltry 27.5%. In fact, lefties hit fly balls off him at a shockingly high 45.1% clip. Don’t tell Cubs batters so they don’t get out of their rhythm, but man, today is shaping up to be a PERFECT day for Cubs lefty batters to hit a lot of homers.