The Cubs opened the second half with a bang, putting up two touchdowns on the Phillies after an inauspicious start that saw Kyle Schwarber deposit Justin Steele‘s first fastball into the stands. Now they have a chance to extend their win streak to three with Marcus Stroman on the mound.
Stroman has been limited in each of his last two starts off the IL but should be able to go deeper in this one. Even if he can’t, the bullpen is plenty rested.
The Phillies will send Zack Wheeler to the mound for the 18th time as he continues to put up remarkably consistent numbers. Though his strikeouts and grounders have fluctuated over the last three seasons, many of his other stats have remained almost identical. Wheeler doesn’t walk many batters and he limits home runs as well as anyone.
Since the start of the 2020 season, only three qualified starters have allowed fewer than Wheeler’s 26 homers and only two have better marks than his 0.61 HR/9. The fact that he allowed two dingers in his last start with two more three starts prior means the Cubs might have to play small ball in this one.
Wheeler is mainly fastball/slider/sinker, but he’ll mix the curve in there about 11% of the time and has been known to toss the occasional split-change. He throws a ton of first-pitch strikes, then he gets hitters to swing at his pitches to avoid major damage. This could be a tough matchup for Cubs hitters, even with this lineup feeling the momentum of last night’s blowout.
Rafael Ortega is leading off in center, followed by Willson Contreras behind the plate and Seiya Suzuki in right. Ian Happ is in left, Nico Hoerner is the shortstop, Patrick Wisdom is the DH, and Alfonso Rivas is at first. David Bote will handle the hot corner and Christopher Morel is at second.
First pitch is at 5:05pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 23, 2022