Chicago Cubs Lineup (5/21/22): Contreras Leads Off, Gomes Cleans Up, Steele Starting

Update: The tarp is out at Wrigley and the game has been delayed, but a new start time has not yet been announced.

Well, this is an interesting lineup for the Cubs as they seek to get back into the win column after dropping three straight in the wake of three series wins. David Ross is trying to jump-start things with Willson Contreras batting leadoff as the DH against Madison Bumgarner and the Diamondbacks. Jonathan Villar bats second at third base, followed by Seiya Suzuki in right and Yan Gomes behind the plate.

Frank Schwindel is at first base, Patrick Wisdom is in left, Christopher Morel is in center, and Ildemaro Vargas is the second baseman. Andrelton Simmons wraps things up at short.

Justin Steele is on the mound for the Cubs coming off of his best start of the season against these very same D-backs. He went six innings in that one by displaying an aggressively efficient approach that saw him working to beat hitters in the zone early rather than trying to get them to chase. More of the same would be nice this afternoon.

Barring any shenanigans from the umpires, the Cubs will have to handle ol’ MadBum themselves in this one. And something tells me massaging his fingers while staring longingly into his eyes isn’t going to get it done. I was honestly pretty shocked when I was reminded that the veteran lefty is in just his age-32 season because it feels like he’s been around forever. Seriously, I thought he was like 37.

Basically Clayton Kershaw but with a much better postseason pedigree, the burly southpaw is putting together a weird campaign that looks in some respects like his best with Arizona and best overall in quite some time. That’s based mostly on his stellar 2.29 ERA, though, with other stats telling a decidedly different story.

Bumgarner’s 14.3% strikeout rate is lower than ever and his 9.5% walk rate is higher than ever, then there’s an unsustainably low .222 BABIP mark that says he’s due for major correction soon. His 3.95 xERA, 4.56 FIP, and 5.13 xFIP all say the same, so perhaps the Cubs can help him out with that this afternoon.

As always, Bumgarner is going to lean very heavily on the cutter that makes up about half of his pitches. His fastball velo has held steady at around 91 mph, but he hasn’t been locating it very well and it’s not even much of a setup pitch at this point. His curve has likewise fallen on hard times, though he still throws it nearly 20% of the time. The changeup has been excellent and he’s throwing it a little more than in the past, so look for that to continue against an all-right-handed lineup.

The Cubs should be able to get to MadBum, but something tells me this is going to be one of those frustrating affairs in which we’re all left wondering what in the hell happened. First pitch from Wrigley is set for 1:20pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.

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