Tonight, Justin Steele and the Cubs will take on left-hander Kyle Freeland and the Rockies at Coors Field. Here’s the Cubs lineup for the first of four in Colorado.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
1. Clint Frazier, DH
2. Nick Madrigal, 2B
3. Jonathan Villar, SS
4. Frank Schwindel, 1B
5. Seiya Suzuki, RF
6. Yan Gomes, C
7. Michael Hermosillo, CF
8. Ian Happ, LF
9. Patrick Wisdom, 3B
Let’s kick this discussion off by sharing Kyle Freeland’s career splits:
vs. LHH: .263/.318/.393; 23.7 K%, 1.01 HR/9
vs. RHH: .275/.343/.452; 16.5 K%, 1.25 HR/9
As you can plainly see, Freeland has had a lot more trouble putting away righties than lefties throughout his career, so I’m not surprised to see David Ross go righty-only for the opener in Colorado.
I am surprised, however, that we chose tonight – of all nights – to give Willson Contreras and Nico Hoerner a break. Scratch that. I understand why it’s happening (it’s basically a regular night off for Contreras and load management for Hoerner, both of which we expected to see a lot of this season), but I just wish it wasn’t happening so early in the year and against a lefty in a hitters park. Tonight feels like a perfect night for either of those two to eat. And you could have certainly used Villar (as a lefty) against the righty, German Márquez, tomorrow if you really wanted to get Hoerner a break. Oh, well.
*UPDATE: I also just noticed that the Rockies have a lead-leading 53.0% groundball rate, 56.7% against lefties like today’s Cubs starter Justin Steele. Kinda feels like a day you’d want Hoerner out there on defense.
*UPDATE II: I also am aware that Hoerner technically has reverse splits for his career, but his career has been so disjointed and the sample is still so very small in the big leagues. I’m guessing he prefers to face lefties and, remember, the pitcher’s splits matter too.
UPDATE III: Oh my gosh, so many lineup updates. Here’s something I missed:
It’s Jonathan Villar day @Cubs fans. He’s 7-8 with 2 doubles, HR and 3 RBI off Kyle Freeland in his career. Expect a righty stack in Denver…
Hope the sportsbooks offer props on him. Stay tuned! #ItsDifferentHere
— Michael Bolling (@mikealexbolling) April 14, 2022
…. BUUUUUT I still want Hoerner at short, especially because Villar can take over third or second. It’s not a huge deal/complaint. It’s just fun to discuss the options and factors.
With Villar at short and Patrick Wisdom at third, Nick Madrigal is back in the lineup, batting second – another somewhat questionable decision given his rough start to the season and the importance of the two-hole. I’d like to see Seiya Suzuki move up to that spot eventually, with Madrigal moving down, but once again, I think I understand the thinking here (basically, let’s not push our luck with Suzuki while it’s going so well).
One thing I love? The continued rotation of the leadoff/DH duties between Clint Frazier and Rafael Ortega, depending on the handedness of the opposing starter. With two lefties and two righties scheduled to pitch against the Cubs this weekend, both guys will get their shot.
As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (7:40 CT).