Anthony Rizzo will lead things off tonight, followed by Albert Almora Jr. (lefty on the mound), Jason Heyward, and Javy Baez. Willson Contreras hits fifth, Ian Happ is sixth in left, Addison Russell is at short, and David Bote plays third and bats ninth.
Mike Montgomery retained his starting spot and he’s aiming to do a little more tonight to prove that it wasn’t a matter of attrition. The big lefty was roughed up for five earned runs on 12 hits his last time out in St. Louis, and he only notched three strikeouts to boot. That relative inability to miss bats is concerning, but he’s facing a Padres team that has lost seven straight.
Lefty swingman Robbie Erlin will be on the mound for San Diego to make his third start of the year and first since May 21. Working primarily in long relief, Erlin has compiled 59.2 innings over 29 appearances. He’s walked only six men in that time and has walked only two over the last 45.1 innings (0.40 BB/9), so this doesn’t figure to be a game of patience.
Erlin has gone longer than four innings only twice this season, neither of which came in a start. As such, he’s not going to be going deep in this one unless the Cubs just completely forget how to hit, which isn’t actually beyond the realm of possibility. Strikeouts aren’t Erlin’s forte, though he can get some whiffs now and then. He’ll mainly rely on getting weak contact on the ground for his outs.
The pitch mix and velocity will be kind of like Kyle Hendricks, only from a left and with just a couple ticks more speed. Oh, and more curveballs. So not like Hendricks at all, really, but I already put the comp out there. Erlin will go fastball, sinker, curve, change, with the occasional cutter/slider thrown in just to keep hitters honest.
A reverse-split pitcher, Erlin is actually much harder on lefties than he is righties, to the tune of nearly 70 wOBA points (.325 to .258). He’ll try to get ahead in the count with the fastball, at which point he’ll go to the curve to get grounders and strikeouts. It rarely stays in the zone and is an effective weapon against hitters from both sides.
The key, then, will be for Cubs hitters to look fastball and attack Erlin early. His four-seam has surrendered a .665 OPS and the sinker is at .789, while the change is at .556 and the curve at .336 this season. Get behind in the count at your own peril.
First pitch from Wrigley is at 7:05pm CT and can be seen on NBC Sports Chicago or heard on 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 2, 2018