Javy Baez leads off and plays third, which pushes Kris Bryant to right field. Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras bat third and fourth and will be looking to continue the recent power binge we’ve seen up and down the order.
Kyle Schwarber is in left, Addison Russell is at short, and Albert Almora Jr. is in center even with a righty on the mound. David Bote has been playing the hot corner, but he’ll get the start at second in this one.
Jon Lester hasn’t really been doing anything exceedingly well this season, but he’s getting good results because he’s not necessarily doing anything too poorly. Well, there is perhaps one thing we can point to when discussing Lester’s early success: His changeup has been his best pitch.
He won’t go to it a lot (10.4 percent), but the change has stolen a little usage from the cutter and curve and has really fooled batters. Despite it’s relatively low usage, Lester’s change has saved more runs than all but 12 others in MLB. And when you even the playing field by looking at relative value (runs saved per 100 pitches), Lester’s 4.27 ranks fifth in MLB.
Speaking of changeups, Sox starter James Shields used to have a nasty one. But the pitch has lost some efficacy over the last few seasons, which could be contributing to the 5+ ERA totals from Big Lame James since his last days in San Diego. He’s still capable of putting up a good performance, though, so the Cubs would be unwise to look past him.
It’s well in the rearview, but Bryant struck out swinging three times when he made his MLB debut against Shields and the Padres. Things haven’t gotten much better since then, as Bryant is still just 1-for-13 against the 36-year-old righty.
Shields employs a wide variety of pitches, mixing speeds and movement in an attempt to fool hitters. It hasn’t worked very often, but Shields is dangerous when his stuff is working and he’s locating.
There isn’t much else to say about this one, the Cubs just need to do what they’ve done over the last few games. First pitch is at 1:20pm CT and can be seen on ABC-7 (Cubs) and NBC Sports Chicago (Sox).
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 12, 2018