Joe Maddon is shifting things around a bit in the finale of this Reds series, giving Javy Báez a rare day off. Kyle Schwarber leads off in left, Kris Bryant is in right, Anthony Rizzo is at first and Willson Contreras catches.
Jason Heyward has been perhaps the Cubs’ hottest hitter over the last week, really the whole month of June, and he’s in center. David Bote plays third, Addison Russell is at short, and Daniel Descalso handles second.
Don’t worry about Javy, he’s just getting some rest since he’s not going to be able to relax during the All-Star break. He was moving somewhat gingerly Friday night, a sign that maybe his heel had flared up, but Saturday’s grand slam was proof that he’s perfectly fine.
They’ll be facing Anthony DeSclafani, against whom they banged three homers a little over a month ago in Chicago. That wasn’t enough for the win, as the Cubs’ bullpen coughed up the lead, but DeSclafani is far from an ace and the Cubs should be able to get to him again.
On the other hand, the 29-year-old righty has been really streaky and is capable of excellent performances. That last game against the Cubs was the fourth straight in which he’d allowed four earned runs, prior to which he’d only allowed one earned over three starts. Then he allowed six earned over four starts before giving up six more in his most recent outing.
DeSclafani can get strikeouts with his big fastball and wipeout slider, but he’s made plenty of mistakes over the plate this season and has given up a ton of hard contact in the air. A lot of that has come from lefties, who have compiled a .994 OPS and .408 wOBA against him, largely because he goes so heavy with the heater and uses his get-me-over curve as a backup.
Righties haven’t fared nearly as well against a more varied pitch mix, but Bryant homered against him the last time out and feels like he’s due for a big fly. Rizzo and Schwarber likewise went yard last month and both feel like good picks to do so again.
Jon Lester is on the mound for the visitors coming off of an excellent effort against the Braves, the first time in a while that he really looked like himself. The Reds don’t hit lefties particularly well and we’ve seen that through two games so far, as long as you discount Mike Montgomery’s effort, so Lester has a bit of an advantage there.
Maybe the offense can get going a little earlier in the game to give BDJ a cushion and allow him to cook up some meatloaf. That’d be nice.
First pitch from GABP is at 12:10pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago and MLB Network (out-of-network), with 670 The Score on the radio call.
Here is today's #Cubs starting lineup in Cincinnati.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 30, 2019