The leadoff spot suited Kris Bryant quite well Tuesday, as he came up clutch in both games of the double-header. He’s back there again in this one, followed by Jason Heyward in right and Ben Zobrist at second base.
Anthony Rizzo cleans up and Albert Almora Jr. hits fifth in center after last night’s game-winning heroics. Kyle Schwarber is in left, Willson Contreras is catching, and Javy Baez round things out at short.
Jon Lester just goes out and takes care of business every time he steps on the mound. He’s only allowed more than two earned runs once in his last nine starts, over which time he’s 6-1 with a pair of no-decisions. And he gave up a total of four runs (two earned) in those ND starts.
While a pitcher’s record isn’t always an indication of his true performance, Lester has kept the Cubs in the game and you know what you’re going to get from him. He’ll have his hands full in this one, but I’m sensing more of a breakout from an offense that has been somewhat stagnant over the last three games.
They’ll have to do it against Ross Stripling, who comes into the game with sterling 1.76 ERA over 20 appearances (nine starts). He’s a strike-thrower of the highest order, generating more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings while walking only 1.49 men in that same relative sample. He also does an excellent job of avoiding hard contact and keeping the ball on the ground.
Stripling is mainly a fastball/slider guy, but he’ll use the curve and change pretty frequently as well. He’ll locate his low-90’s heater well enough to keep hitters from really squaring it up, which sets up the other pitches to keep opponents off-balance. The curve has actually been his best pitch in terms of relative value, so that’s maybe not a good thing after what we saw from the Cubs against Rich Hill.
Cubs hitters stood there and watched a lot of strikes go by last night, something they can’t afford to do against Stripling. He’s walked only five me in those nine starts, and those came in three games. This isn’t the afternoon to be patient.
Of note is that, while Stripling has fared much better against righties in general, they account for both of the homers he’s allowed on the road. That’s probably too small a sample to really hold much weight, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Stripling has allowed only six homers on the season, though four of those have come in his last four starts and three have come in his last two outings. He’s only given up four hits in each of those last four starts, too, so the Cubs may have to rely on a little thunder in what should be a fairly clear afternoon otherwise.
First pitch of the rubber game is set for 1:20pm CT and can be see on WGN and MLB Network (out of market) and heard on 670 The Score.
Here is today's #Cubs lineup for the rubber game against the Dodgers.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 20, 2018