Sunday’s series finale features the best team in baseball against the worst, at least in terms of records, with the undefeated Cubs facing the winless Brewers. Milwaukee collected only four hits against Cubs pitching Saturday, just one more than the number of Cubs batters they hit with pitches. But true to their nature, the Brewers got super salty when newcomer Andrew McCutchen was plunked late in the game.
We’ll see whether and how this long-running beanball battle continues with Marcus Stroman on the mound for his regular season debut. The dynamic hurler looked sharp throughout the spring and has been very vocal about how excited he is to have the home crowd behind him in this one. Between the early results and much better weather, he’ll probably have a much bigger crowd than we saw yesterday.
Stroman will unleash a versatile repertoire that includes a sinker, slider, change, cutter, four-seam, and curve, all of which he can manipulate for additional variety. He generates tons of grounders and keeps the ball in the yard, which should give the Cubs a chance to sweep this afternoon.
They’ll need to score runs to do it, which starts with Rafael Ortega in left and Nick Madrigal at second. Jonathan Villar is at third, Alfonso Rivas is at first, and Seiya Suzuki is one of the few regulars to remain in his normal spot in right. Clint Frazier will put his perfect batting average on the line with his first start of the season at DH.
Jason Heyward is starting in center, which still feels like David Ross being a glutton for punishment. Heyward keeps finding ways to reach base, though, so maybe that good luck will continue. Yan Gomes gets the start behind the plate, which means Willson Contreras will get a break from being plunked for the first time this season, then it’s Nico Hoerner at short.
Freddy Peralta is coming off of a career-best season in which he posted a 2.81 ERA and struck out 195 batters over 144.1 innings. He collected 41 of those Ks in 26.1 innings against the Cubs, limiting them to a total of seven runs in five starts. Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff had been equally dominant last season, so maybe the Cubs can further prove they’re a different kind of team this year.
Peralta is certainly a different type of pitcher from his predecessors, with a much smaller frame and a 93 mph fastball that sits a few ticks lower. It’s still very effective, however, and it sets up a filthy slider/curve combo that generates whiffs for days. His change is more of a show-me offering and isn’t very dangerous, but the lefties may want to look out for it nonetheless.
Because Peralta is a very aggressive strike-thrower, hitters are probably going to want to match that rather than waiting until he can unleash the breaking stuff with two strikes. This team looks to be better in those situations due to the improved contact ability, but it’s still unwise to tempt fate.
First pitch is set for 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 10, 2022