Chicago Cubs Lineup (9/17/21): Order Remains Static, Steele Starting

You’d think the Cubs would have a little more variation in the lineup after getting rid of so many regulars, but David Ross seems to be putting out pretty much the same batting order every night. Rafael Ortega will lead off in center with Frank Schwindel at first and Ian Happ in left. Willson Contreras is behind the plate, Patrick Wisdom is at third, and Alfonso Rivas is in right. Then it’s Matt Duffy at second and Sergio Alcántara at short.

Justin Steele is on the bump trying to avoid the lapses that have plagued most of his starts this season. It’s as though he gets to thinking too much and fails to attack hitters with his superior stuff, which leads to clogged bases and inescapable jams. He will have to be at his best given the matchup in this one.

Going for Milwaukee is Corbin Burnes, he of the combined no-hitter last time out against Cleveland. The righty went eight innings with 14 strikeouts and one walk for his seventh double-digit K outing before giving way to Josh Hader for the close. Burnes has walked only two batters against 85 strikeouts in those seven games and he’s got almost 10 times as many Ks (210) as BBs (29) on the season.

Oh, and two of those big games have come against the Cubs. Burnes struck out 10 with no walks over six scoreless innings back on April 14, then struck out 15 with no walks over eight scoreless on August 11. That means the Cubs have failed to score against him in 14 innings while striking out 25 times and collecting just six hits. Only one of those hits went for extra bases.

That most recent game was also notable because Burnes tied an MLB record by striking out 10 consecutive batters at one point. He’s got filthy stuff, highlighted by a 95 mph cutter that is the best pitch in baseball this season. At 26 runs, it has generated more than any other pitch from any other pitcher and as much as the next seven best cutters combined.

Simply put, the Cubs are going to need Burnes to be off tonight if they want to have a chance. Milwaukee is really turning it on and playing well, plus they’ve got the pitching to make noise in the playoffs. Damn, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

First pitch is 6:15pm CT on Fox and 670 The Score.

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