Ben Zobrist has been incredible in two games at leadoff so far, and he’s batting there again while playing second tonight. Kyle Schwarber has also been on a tear, so he’s batting second in left while Nicholas Castellanos bats third at the other corner outfield spot. Anthony Rizzo cleans up, followed by Kris Bryant at third and Victor Caratini catching.
The Cubs are being very careful with Javy Báez, whose thumb is still giving him enough trouble to keep him out of the lineup. Joe Maddon said Thursday that Javy was adamant about playing, but the discomfort was enough for them to schedule an MRI. Great. Addison Russell plays short in his place and Jason Heyward will be in center.
Righty Zach Davies gave up 11 runs on 11 hits (four homers) in back-to-back starts against the Cubs, then shut them out on four hits last week at Wrigley. Everything about this guy says the Cubs should be able to jump on him again, but he’s generally handled them really well outside of a few games. When Davies is on, his sinker/changer combo avoids barrels and gets hitter to make week contact, but we’ve seen what can happen when he’s off.
The sinker (56.5%) and change (28.7%) make up nearly 90% of his total offerings, so it’s all about picking out the right pitch and doing damage. Or it could be about waiting him out if his control falters. Because of his general lack of a swing-and-miss pitch, hitters can afford to get into deep counts and see if they can find something to drive.
The Brewers seem to be the exact opposite team right now from the one that set September ablaze last season, so there’s no excuse for the Cubs not to tune Davies up. Then you look at the way they’ve been mashing lately with a healthy lineup and Zobrist setting the tone and it seems like a romp is a given. Of course, that ignores everything we’ve seen from this team so far.
Cole Hamels hasn’t looked good over the last month, a trend that continued at the outset of his most recent start against the Brewers. Then something clicked and he really settled in to last six innings with just two runs allowed. The Cubs could really use that kind of performance again, though maybe the offense can make it a moot point.
First pitch is at 7:10pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago and 670 The Score.
Here is tonight's #Cubs starting lineup.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 6, 2019