Chicago Cubs Lineup (5/23/19): Javy Bats Second, Bote Bats Last, KB Rests, Lester Closes Series
The Cubs put on a power display Wednesday night, just as we expected, putting them in position to take three out of four from Philly after a disappointing loss in the series opener. They’ll be doing so behind the man you’d want on the mound in this situation, and in what appears to be absolutely perfect weather.
Kyle Schwarber once again leads off in left as he seems to be settling in nicely to his role atop the order. It’s only been seven games, though, and the numbers are skewed by an 0-for-4 game in his first start there. Javy Báez moves up the two hole as Kris Bryant gets the day off, Anthony Rizzo bats third, and Willson Contreras cleans up.
Jason Heyward bats fifth in right, Albert Almora Jr. looks to continue making louder noises with a quieter swing, Daniel Descalso hits seventh at second base, and David Bote bats last at third. This is the first time in a while we’ve seen Joe Maddon by the pitcher last, but it’s probably because Jon Lester rakes like his yard is full of oak trees.
Going for the Phillies is 25-year-old Aaron Nola, who isn’t quite living up to the promise he displayed last season. And that’s really saying something for a guy who’s 4-0 while striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings. Nola has been hit really hard this year, largely because his two favorite pitches — curve and four-seam — have betrayed him.
Nola actually throws the breaking ball more than he does the fastball, though opponents are seeing it better than ever before. After not allowing more than a .516 OPS with the bender in four previous seasons, hitters are putting up a .701 through 10 starts this season. The fastball is giving up a 1.052 OPS, which is just abysmal.
Nola can still miss bats with the curve and change, but his fastball and sinker don’t get whiffs at all. Well, okay, hitters do whiff against them on very rare occasion. It’s not good when half of the pitches you throw are destined for contact, which is why Nola has been eaten alive by lefties. And the Cubs can jump on mistakes, so his .430 wOBA and 1.028 OPS marks against left-handed hitters portend good things.
The sunny afternoon at Wrigley means we could be looking at an offensive battle, so I’ll take Jon Lester over Nola. The big lefty had a rough start the last time out and just wasn’t executing his pitches, so he’ll need to be better this afternoon against a Phillies team than can really mash.
First pitch from Wrigley is set for 1:20pm ET and can be seen on ABC-7 or heard on 670 The Score.
Here is today's #Cubs starting lineup.
Game preview: https://t.co/VcdopSNTSv #EverybodyIn pic.twitter.com/6LD2XWwBPp
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 23, 2019