It’s been a busy couple days for the Cubs, what with Matt Szczur being DFA’d and Justin Grimm optioned to Iowa, replaced on the roster by Rob Zastryzny and Felix Pena. There will be more moves to come as we get the inevitable announcement of Brett Anderson to the DL and the likely returns of Grimm and Tommy La Stella.
Those moves really only impact the back end of the 25-man, though so we’ve got a pretty standard starting lineup trying to stave off a sweep at the hands of a Yankees team that is firing on all cylinders. Despite the Cubs’ struggles early in games, the Yanks have several hitters who appear to be at peak production and it feels like it’ll take a huge effort to slow them down.
Enter longtime division rival Jon Lester, who’s more than familiar with this opponent, if perhaps not the individuals involved in this game. He’ll take his 1.50 Wrigley ERA (1.47 FIP) to the mound as he tries to avoid giving up 1st-inning runs.
Supporting their ace will be the regular foursome of Schwarbryzzobrist, followed by Addison Russell, Jon Jay, Willson Contreras, and Javy Baez. It’s a little interesting to see Jay in Jason Heyward’s normal spot in the order, while Zobrist mans right, but let’s run with it and see what happens.
The lineup will be facing a starter in Luis Severino who doesn’t give opponents, particularly lefties, much to work with. He complements a fastball that sits in the upper 90’s with a power slider and a change that comes in about 10 mph slower than the heater. And he throws them all for strikes, as evidenced by a 6.00 K/BB ratio that’s sixth in MLB at this point.
Severino has done a good job of avoiding hard contact, too, so the Cubs hitters are going to have their work cut out for them. This isn’t a game to be sitting back and working too many deep counts, but it’s not one to be swinging out of their shoes early. Even if they can’t get to Severino early, the Cubs may be able to do damage once they’ve turned the lineup over a couple times. The Yankee righty has an 8.31 ERA and 6.04 FIP the third time facing a lineup.
If the Cubs are going to make some noise, the lefty hitters are really going to need to step up. Severino’s had some nasty reverse-split stuff this season, holding lefties to a .172/.217/.357 slash on a measly .163 BABIP. He has only a 6.89 K/9 rate against lefties, though, so he will give up contact. Perhaps the Cubs can take advantage of that and inflate those numbers. Well, except for the K/9 one.
This is ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast, so we’re looking at a 7:08 CT start, with 670 The Score on the radio call as always.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 7, 2017