Three games in, and we’ve got our first rubber match of the year. Let’s see how David Ross wants to line the boys up for the Easter-Sunday finale against the Pirates at Wrigley Field.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
1. Ian Happ, CF
2. Willson Contreras, C
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
4. Kris Bryant, 3B
5. Joc Pederson, LF
6. Javy Baez, SS
7. Jason Heyward, RF
8. Eric Sogard, 2B
9. Zach Davies, P
After a day off against a lefty yesterday, Ian Happ is back atop the Cubs lineup this afternoon, and for good reason. Not only have lefties absolutely crushed Keller throughout his career (.321/.412/.519; .396 wOBA), but Happ has also already gone 3-5 with a double and HR against him. All of that is former extremely small sample sizes, but it’s still a good start.
Happ isn’t the only Cub who’s had some success, either.
Ian Happ, Jason Heyward, and Javy Baez are a combined 7-15 against today's Pirates starter, Mitch Keller, with 3 doubles and 3 homers.
Looks good to me.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) April 4, 2021
Now, none of this is to say you should sleep on Keller, 25, who’s been a top-50 prospect in MLB since 2017 for a reason. He’s got a mid-90s fastball and a good slider, to go along with a big dropping curveball and pocket changeup. I’d expect him to pump some fastballs at the top of the zone to see if the Cubs have fixed any of their issues with high heat, but he can beat them in a lot of different ways. It hasn’t come together for him at this level just yet, but he *is* talented. Oh, also it’s his birthday.
Also of note today is Eric Sogard’s first start at second base for the Cubs. Even though Bote is the nominal starter there, I do think we’ll see Sogard mix in regularly, especially against righties like Keller. Bote’s upside is still something to be explored, and he will get his shot this year, but this is a reasonable substitution for today.
As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (1:20 CT).