The last time Willson Contreras led off, it went pretty well. I mean, if you consider home runs to be good things, which I do. He’s back in the top spot again, leading what is otherwise a pretty standard lineup.
Kris Bryant, who has been in something of a funk lately, is batting second between WillCo and Anthony Rizzo. Then we see Ben Zobrist in right with Ian Happ in left and Albert Almora Jr. in center. Javy Baez at second base and Addison Russell at short complete a righty-heavy lineup to face hard-throwing southpaw Blake Snell.
The Rays starter has a 5.36 ERA, 5.30 FIP, and 5.33 xFIP, which tells us that he’s not really been impacted by good or bad luck either way. He is who he is. Equipped with a mid-90’s fastball, Snell will mix in a change, slider and curve. Though he’s got trouble controlling the heater, its velocity is great for setting up the change that comes in around 10 ticks slower.
Snell walks more batters (5.74 BB/9) than all but one pitcher with at least 40 innings under his belt (Alex Meyer – 6.12) and he doesn’t strike out too many either (7.66 K/9). He has walked at least three batters in seven of his nine starts and has struck out more than five men only twice. He has also allowed a home run in each of his last four starts, all to righties, so the Cubs just need to be patient and jump on his mistakes.
Actually, all seven of the home runs Snell has given up have been against righties, who have an .829 OPS against him.
Speaking of that, John Lackey is on the mound for the Cubs as he looks to extend his home-runs-allowed streak to 10 games. He’s given 16 dingers in that span, which has propelled him to an MLB-leading 24 on the season. His 2.33 HR/9 mark currently stands as the highest in MLB…history. As in, all time. Awesome, huh?
Breaking that streak and lowering that rate stat would be really great for the Cubs, but there’s something appealing about leading all of baseball in something. Except not.
First pitch is set for 1:20 CT and will be carried by CSN Chicago.
Here is today's #Cubs starting lineup against the Rays.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 5, 2017