Chicago Cubs Lineup (8/15/19): Javy Scratched, Rizzo Leads Off, Bote at Short (Updated)

UPDATE: We have a new lineup as Javy Báez has been scratched with an illness. Anthony Rizzo will now move into the leadoff spot, with David Bote trying his hand at shortstop tonight.

Jason Heyward is still dealing with a sore knee, so it’ll be Albert Almora Jr. leading off in center. Because of course. Maybe something will click, but there is absolutely nothing about Almora’s performance that suggests this is a good idea.

Nicholas Castellanos is in right, Kris Bryant is at third, Anthony Rizzo plays first, and Javy Báez handles short. David Bote is at second, Kyle Schwarber is in left, and Victor Caratini rounds it out behind the plate.

They’ll be facing sort-of former Cub Drew Smyly, who pitched a total of one inning for the organization when he struck out three in his lone outing with South Bend in 2018. The lefty was traded to Texas in the offseason in what essentially amounted to a thank-you for the Cole Hamels’ success, but he went 1-5 with an 8.42 ERA in 13 appearances with the Rangers.

A short-lived stint in the Brewers’ minor-league system led to him electing free agency and catching on with the Phillies. Smyly seemed to have figured something out during his first two starts with his new team, though allowing 11 runs (nine earned) on 11 hits with 11 strikeouts and four walks over he last two isn’t great.

We’re going to keep this short, since the Cubs’ play of late means all of 37 people will end up reading this. Smyly has a 91 mph fastball that he offsets with a curve, cutter, and change, none of which are very good. He has been absolutely destroyed by lefties so far, allowing eight homers to 72 batters faced for .463 wOBA. So it makes to lead off with a righty who doesn’t see many pitches.

Smyly has allowed 23 total home runs in just 75 innings, which is just an astronomical number for someone who’s not pitching for the Orioles. After two garbage games, the Cubs have no excuse whatsoever to not jump all over this guy. Anything short of an offensive explosion will be a big disappointment, but the Cubs have done all too good a job at falling short of expectations this season.

Yu Darvish is going for the visitors and we’re just going to go ahead and hope he has a better outing than whatever it was we saw from Cole Hamels last night. Not that he could really do any worse. It’s pathetic that we’re yet again discussing a Cubs pitching having to play stopper after falling behind 0-2 in a road series, but here we are.

First pitch from Citizens Bank Park is 6:05 pm CT on WGN and MLB Network (out-of-market), with 670 The Score on the radio call.

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