Chicago Cubs Lineup (8/29/21): Ortega Leads Off, Rivas Debuts at 1B, Hendricks Pitching for Series Win

Rafael Ortega leads off in center Sunday afternoon, followed by Frank Schwindel as the DH, Ian Happ in left, and Patrick Wisdom at third. Wisdom just became the first rookie in Cubs history with back-to-back multi-homer games and he’s now one shy of Kris Bryant’s franchise record of 26 rookie homers. And that’s in just 275 plate appearances.

Matt Duffy is at second, Jason Heyward is in right, Austin Romine is behind the plate, and Alfonso Rivas gets his first career MLB start as the first baseman. Sergio Alcántara is batting ninth and playing short.

Kyle Hendricks may have an outside shot at 20 wins, but he’s going to have to win all of his remaining starts to get there. Leading the Cubs to a series win on the South Side would be a decent way to keep himself at the top of the wins leaderboard, a feat that remains incredible given how bad the Cubs are and how rough his early season was.

On the mound for the home team is Dylan Cease, a name that will live in infamy for Cubs fans. He got the win when these teams met up last time, but he allowed three runs on five hits and three walks. He also struck out 10 and missing bats is his thing, so he can make up for mistakes.

He’s doing that with much better command of his 96 mph fastball, locating it to decrease what had been an alarming 13.3% walk rate last season. The fastball still isn’t a great pitch for Cease overall, but keeping it in the zone more often sets up his secondaries much more effectively. His slider is the best of those and he throws it about 30% of the time to miss a lot of bats.

The curve and change are technically better on a per-pitch basis, but they only make up a combined 25% of his repertoire. You’d think that combination of speed and stuff, particularly with equally strong breaking and offspeed stuff, that Cease would dominate right-handed hitters or at least have even splits. Instead, he’s been much tougher on lefties.

The other thing to consider is that Cease has been much better at home this year, particularly against lefties. That’s something to watch as the game gets underway at 1:10pm CT.

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