Ian Happ leads off in center as the Cubs play their first game in the newly christened American Family Field. Willson Contreras will try to avoid being hit by a pitch as he catches and bats second, Anthony Rizzo bats third, and Kris Bryant plays third as the cleanup hitter. Joc Pederson is in left, Javy Báez is at short, Jason Heyward is in right, and David Bote is at second.
Only two of those players are clearing the Mendoza line at this point and everything on offense looks, well, offensive. The flip side is that there’s no way all these hitters can keep being this awful for much longer. Tonight’s as good a time for a breakout as any.
Adbert Alzolay took a loss in his first start of the year, also against the Brewers, but he settled down nicely after a very rough 1st inning that saw him issue a one-out walk and then a single before surrendering a three-run homer. The young righty later allowed a solo shot, ending with four earned runs allowed on four hits and two walks. He struck out four across five innings of work.
None of that really mattered because the Cubs were shut out, leaving Alzolay twisting in the wind over the course of an all-too-familiar offensive outage. Alzolay really liked his slider and he located it well, though the two-seam he incorporated last season didn’t show up very often. The curve was likewise in shorter supply, so pay attention to see whether and how he changes his pitch mix in this one.
Freddy Peralta led the shutout last week and he’s on the mound again in this one against a team that had no clue how to handle him. Despite throwing very few first strikes and living out of the zone, Peralta got lots of swinging strikes on the slider he threw far more often than usual. His mid-90’s fastball sped hitters up and got him ahead, then the slider wiped them out.
The Cubs gave the Brewers all kinds of favors in that game and they did the same for the Pirates over the weekend, so a change of approach is definitely warranted in this one. As nice as it would be to see them jump all over him, Peralta is not the kind of pitcher who should be allowed to get ahead in counts. He’s not the most efficient worker, so making him grind might be the best option tonight.
First pitch from AmFam Field is at 6:40pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 12, 2021