Daniel Murphy leads off at second base, Ben Zobrist is in right, Javy Baez plays short, and Anthony Rizzo cleans up. Kyle Schwarber is in left, Kris Bryant is back at third after a scheduled day off to rest his shoulder, Jason Heyward is in center, and Victor Caratini bats last.
Cole Hamels was nothing short of dreadful in his last outing, resembling the pitcher the Rangers were happy to part ways with. Being in hitter-friendly environs on the final day of that woeful 30-day stretch contributed to the performance, but Hamels was just way off.
Given how well he’s pitched for the Cubs so far, it’s reasonable to believe some sort of hiccup was due. It can also be assumed that tonight’s effort will be much better.
Jameson Taillon is coming to the end of an excellent season that has seen him make good on the promise of being the No. 2 overall pick in 2010. Still just 26, the big righty is a power pitcher with a mid-90’s fastball and sinker that he sets off with a hard slider and solid curve.
Taillon’s got excellent command of all his pitches and doesn’t walk many, which greatly limits the damage on the rare occasions when he does make a mistake. For example, he’s allowed five home runs in the last six games, but all have been solo shots and they represent all but two of the runs he’s allowed in that stretch.
As you’d expect, Taillon has been tougher on righties across the board. Perhaps most notable is that he’s walked just nine of the 349 of them he’s faced this season. The Cubs can’t expect to sit around and wait for walks in this one and they probably don’t want to hang around for those wicked breaking balls deep in the count. No, they want to hunt fastballs.
With their magic number at five games and their destiny in their hands, this is no time for the offense to turtle up and wait things out.
First pitch is set for 7:05pm CT on CSN Chicago and 670 The Score.
Here is tonight's #Cubs lineup as we open the final homestand of the regular season.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 24, 2018