Just after you finish lunch, the Chicago Cubs are going to face their first elimination game of 2020. If they win, they’ll have another one tomorrow. If they lose, it’s all over. But am I worried? Am I stressing? Nah. I’m as cool as a cucumber.
We’ve been here before – often with worse odds and a lot more on the line – so it’s going to take more than a rookie starter (Sixto Sanchez), the Marlins, and a made up first-round of the postseason to shake me. Not with Yu Darvish on the mound, not with the game at Wrigley Field. Come on, people. Let’s go.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
1. Ian Happ, CF
2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
3. Willson Contreras, DH
4. Kyle Schwarber, LF
5. Kris Bryant, 3B
6. Jason Heyward, RF
7. Javy Baez, SS
8. David Bote, 2B
9. Victor Caratini, C
By now, you should know the story of Sixto Sanchez. He’s a top pitching prospect, who was promoted this year, came up, dominated for a while, then got blown up in his last two starts with a ton of wildness. His ability to shut down a really good offense is clearly there, but this is still a 22-year-old whose made 7 big league starts coming to Wrigley Field for a playoff game. Fans in the stands or not, this is a big moment for him – and the fact that his last two starts were so bad (combined: 7.0 IP, 12H, 9ER, 6 BBs, 4Ks) will be on his mind.
On a more practical level, let’s note that Sanchez has actually carried reverse splits this season, meaning his fellow righties have actually hit him better than lefties:
v. LHH: .232/.270/.261 (.232 wOBA)
v. RHH: .267/.345/.400 (.329 wOBA)
But what do you do about that? Do you trust a sample size of less than 39.0 IP plus whatever imperfect scouting you have on a guy with such little professional experience overall? Well, a little. The Cubs do still have three natural lefties (Rizzo, Schwarber, Heyward) plus two switch-hitters who will bat from the left side against Sanchez (Happ, Caratini), so that’s more than half their lineup … but David Bote is in there at second base instead of Jason Kipnis, and that’s about all the personnel tinkering David Ross was willing to do.
As for the order, the only real notable change was dropping Kris Bryant down to 5th and bumping Willson Contreras up to third. Other than that, today’s lineup, which could be the Cubs last for a very long time, looks a lot like the lineups we’ve seen every single game this season. I guess that’s a good thing.
As usual, we’ll have your Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (1:08 CT).