Robel Garcia isn’t really a leadoff hitter, but he’ll continue to play one on TV for the time being. He’s followed tonight by Jason Heyward, whose .378 OBP against righties says he should probably be atop the order, in right field and Kris Bryant at third.
Then it’s Anthony Rizzo and Javy Báez in their usual spots, Victor Caratini catching, Kyle Schwarber in left and Ian Happ in center. That latter pair worked well together Sunday, with Happ drawing walks and Schwarber pounding homers. Maybe they can trade roles in this one.
Adam Wainwright is showing his age these days, but the 37-year-old righty has also shown that he can still get it done on occasion. Like when he shut the Cubs out on two hits back on what was otherwise the greatest day of the year. In two other starts, however, Waino has allowed nine earned runs in 9.1 innings.
The curve remains his go-to pitch and he throws it roughly 36% of the time now. He’s also got a sinker, cutter, four-seam, and change, but the bender is pretty clearly his biggest weapon. Don’t sleep on that cutter, though, he can still get outs with it. He doesn’t get many swings and misses and he’s prone to fits of wildness, so the Cubs afford to be patient.
Like his counterpart in this one, he’s susceptible to momentum one way or the other and we should know right out of the gate what kind of stuff he’s got. Even his best stuff is hittable at this point, though, so the Cubs should be able to hang a few runs and give their starter a cushion
Yu Darvish is coming off of a forgettable start in San Francisco that followed what were probably his two best outings of the season, so he continues to be a mixed bag. His velocity has been increasing throughout the season and his average fastball has remained at or above 95 mph over his last four starts, but the real key is that he’s throwing it for strikes.
With only two walks in those starts (24.2 IP, 0.73 BB/9), Darvish has all but exorcised the walk boogeyman that haunted him early in the season. Now it’s a matter of avoiding the longball, since he’s given up 10 homers in his last eight games and has a tendency to pipe too many pitches at inopportune times.
The Cubs don’t necessarily need Darvish to go really deep to save the bullpen coming out of an off day, but he needs to work more efficiently and avoid big hiccups.
First pitch from St. Louis is at 7:15pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago and MLB Network (out-of-market), with 670 The Score on the radio call.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 30, 2019