Folks, Wrigley Field will be at full capacity this afternoon for Opening Day 2.0 to see the Cubs play the Cardinals, and I can’t imagine a better way to start the weekend. I’ll actually be on my way to South Bend to see the other Cubs, also in a packed house, so this is being written with a great deal of anticipatory joy.
Joc Pederson is leading off in left, Kris Bryant is in center, and Javier Baez is at short. Anthony Rizzo, who made waves when he ESPN 1000 this morning that he chose not to get vaccinated, is at first. Willson Contreras handles the catching duties, Patrick Wisdom is at third, Jason Heyward is in right, and Sergio Alcantara is at second.
Kohl Stewart in on the mound for the third time as the Cubs continue to call upon reinforcements for the rotation. He had been optioned down to make room for Cory Abbott, but came back immediately and is now starting with Adbert Alzolay on the shelf due to a blister. Stewart has been solid in his two previous starts, though he got roughed up a little in a short outing against the Giants.
The Cubs really just need him to give them 4+ innings and keep the game close, which shouldn’t be too much to ask.
Going for the Cardinals is 23-year-old righty Johan Oviedo, who is making his sixth start and seventh overall appearance this season. He’s given up at least two runs in every start and hasn’t completed five innings since April 28, so the numbers look a little shaky at this point.
Since putting up 11 strikeouts to four walks in his first two outings, Oviedo has struck out only nine with 13 walks since. A lot of that is due to a changeup that has been nothing short of awful so far. It’s a really firm offering at 88 mph and he doesn’t throw it often, but it’s cost him 3.6 runs already in just 24 innings.
Oviedo likes to work down in the zone with his 96 mph fastball and his slider, both of which have done better when it comes to getting grounders than swinging strikes. When they find the zone, that is. He doesn’t get many whiffs or called strikes, so his 7.5 K/9 is lower than you’d expect from a power pitcher.
Despite some of those struggles, however, Oviedo has more or less dominated right-handed hitters to the tune of a .158 average so far. Lefties are hitting .275 with a .362 wOBA, so look for Pederson and Rizzo to hunt fat fastballs this afternoon.
First pitch is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score. If your current television provider doesn’t yet offer Marquee, you can get a free preview of fuboTV to see whether it’s worth switching.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 11, 2021