Rafael Ortega leads off in center, followed by Frank Schwindel at first and Ian Happ in left as the Cubs try to avoid a sweep. Patrick Wisdom is at third, Matt Duffy is at second, and Jason Heyward is in right. Then it’s Austin Romine behind the plate and Sergio Alcántara is the shortstop.
Alec Mills has probably been the Cubs’ steadiest starter this season and you can pretty much bet on what he’s going to do every fifth day. That means going five or six innings with no more than three earned runs with a few strikeouts and maybe a walk or two. The only problem is that he doesn’t often get enough run support to make his efforts stand up.
The Cubs have scored just two in each of the previous games of the series and have almost no offense outside of Patrick Wisdom homers, so maybe that changes this afternoon. In order to do that, they’ll have to get over on the best pitcher they’ve faced over the weekend in Carlos Hernández. The 24-year-old righty has a 4.33 ERA with a 4.29 and boasts better strikeout and home run numbers than either of his peers.
He’s also bot a much bigger fastball, pumping gas at around 98 mph for roughly 55% of his pitches. He follows that up with a curveball, slider, and split-change that are all pretty spotty. The slider is his best secondary because it’s been a lot more consistent, but Hernández has shown the ability to get each pitch dialed in to produce very strong outings.
The only game in which he’s allowed multiple homers was his last start against the Astros, so this probably isn’t a game in which the longball is going to win it for the Cubs. However, Wisdom and other right-handed batters may yet have their way due to Hernández’s extreme reverse splits. Righties are hitting .274 with a .472 slugging and .350 wOBA against him, while lefties have respective marks of .190, .298, and .277 so far.
So of course Michael Hermosillo is on the bench in favor of three lefty-hitting outfielders. Let’s just hope this is one where the previous stats don’t matter.
First pitch from Wrigley is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 22, 2021