The Cubs have a different look today with a lefty on the mound. Matt Duffy is leading off at third, followed by Frank Schwindel at first and David Bote at second. Patrick Wisdom is in left, Nico Hoerner is at short after being activated from the IL, Trayce Thompson is in right, and Rafael Ortega is in center. Austin Romine finishes the order at catcher.
Keegan Thompson has been activated from the IL and will take the start that had originally been assigned to Adrian Sampson. The rookie righty hadn’t recorded an out in the 3rd inning in either of his previous two starts, so the Cubs are hoping for a deeper run this afternoon. With both Trayce and Keegan — who are not actually related — in the lineup, David Ross may end up exclaiming, “Hold me now!” or “Doctor! Doctor!”
Lefty Eric Lauer is facing the Cubs for the first time this season and he’s coming into this one riding a hot streak that including allowing just two earned runs over his last three starts. Lauer has gone 19.1 innings in that time, striking out 17 with just three walks and 10 hits allowed. He appears to have cleaned a few things up command-wise after walking four batters on four separate occasions through early July.
With only 10 total walks in his last nine games, Lauer is no longer as likely to beat himself. The same goes for the longball, which bit him hard early on. After allowing 10 homers in his first nine appearances, he has surrendered just three over the last 12 games. Going back to July 21, a span that includes eight starts and one long relief appearance, Lauer has a 2.18 ERA with 45 strikeouts and 10 walks in 45.1 innings.
He’s not the most dynamic pitcher by any stretch and his 93 mph fastball isn’t scary in the least, but his selection of secondaries has played really well this season. His cutter/slider combo makes up about 30% of his pitches, but his curve is a better breaking ball and has done quite a bit of damage. He’s also got a firm changeup that catches batters off-guard.
Having feel for all those pitches allows Lauer to be effective against hitters from both sides of the plate, as evidenced by identical .282 wOBA marks against both lefty and righty batters. The variety also keeps him from suffering when he gets through to the third time through an order. We’ll see whether a lack of familiarity works in his favor this afternoon as he faces a Cubs lineup that doesn’t know him very well.
First pitch is at 1:10pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 19, 2021