Chicago Cubs Lineup (8/21/19): Heyward Leads Off, Happ at 2B, Darvish Pitching

Jason Heyward leads off in center, Nicholas Castellanos is in right, Kris Bryant is at third, and Anthony Rizzo is at first. Javy Báez mans short, Kyle Schwarber is in left, Ian Happ is at second, and Victor Caratini is behind the plate with his most frequent battery-mate.

They’ll be facing Dereck Rodriguez, aka Son of Pudge, who’s making just this fourth start since May 10. The 27-year-old righty has bounced between the bullpen and the rotation while also shuttling between Triple-A and the bigs as the result of his uninspired performance this season.

His choice in tattoos is quite inspired, though, as evidenced by the portrait of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman on his left forearm. I was only half paying attention, but Len and JD either thought it was Julie Newmar or were simply using the ink as a reason to discuss her iconic turn as the villainess in the 60’s television adaptation of Batman.

That got me thinking of the movie To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, which got me thinking of Patrick Swayze, which got me thinking about Road House. That turned into a take on the popular trend in #CubsTwitter to use images to depict the Road Cubs vs. the Home Cubs.

Anyway, the Cubs should be able to go BAM! BANG! CRRAAACK! against Rodriguez, who gives up a boatload of hard contact. Contrary to that, he’s actually done a good job of keeping the ball in the yard and would have decidedly better numbers if he hadn’t allowed four bombs to the Reds back on May 4 in Cincy. OOOFF!

A stout guy who goes about 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, you might expect Rodriguez to have a bigger fastball than the 91-ish mph heater he boasts. Because he doesn’t generate much velo, he really isn’t fooling anyone and can’t set up his secondaries very well. His change, curve, sinker, and slider are all pretty good pitches, but the fastball is a dog.

Righties have hit 45 points higher against Rodriguez on the season, while lefties reach base and slug better. You’d expect that to be a little more pronounced for him at home, with lefty hitters taking advantage of right field in San Francisco, but Rodriguez has actually been much better on the road. And that’s including his implosion in Cincy, so don’t be surprised if he pitches better than his numbers tonight.

Yu Darvish is on the mound looking to extend a streak of 102 batters faced without a walk, which actually began after he issued a free pass to Mike Yastrzemski in the 4th inning of his July 23 start in San Francisco. The only bugaboo for Darvish in the time since has been home runs, with six allowed in his last five starts. The damage is minimized by the lack of walks, but it’d be nice to limit the longball.

First pitch is at 7:05pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago and 670 The Score.

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