Joe Maddon has slotted Albert Almora in the leadoff spot tonight for the Chicago Cubs, followed by Kris Bryant at third, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez batting cleanup. Willson Contreras is batting fifth, and he is followed by David Bote at 2B, Jason Heyward in RF, and Ben Zobrist in LF. Jon Lester is on the hill.
Going for the Marlins is lefty Caleb Smith, perhaps the lone legitimate reason to want to watch Marlins games. The 27-year-old is 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA over six starts and has struck out 45 batters to just nine walks. And I know a pitcher’s record isn’t the measure of his talent, but it’s pretty impressive to be 3-0 given the Marlins’ general putrescence.
Smith relies upon just three pitches, anchored by a low-90’s fastball that he is able to locate to avoid too much damage. From there, he’ll go with a slider and change to keep batters guessing and missing. An 11.25 K/9 mark and 16.8% swinging-strike rate means Smith misses a ton of bats.
The Cubs are going to strike out in this one, about that there can be no doubt. With eight strikeouts in four of his six starts, Smith is going to get some guys with his secondaries. But he’s given up a homer in each of his last two starts and allows a lot of contact in the air. If the Cubs can make Smith pay for early mistakes, they should be able to disrupt his rhythm.
Going for the home team is Jon Lester, who’s been as good as ever this season. By mixing speed and location to near perfection, Lester is putting up better strikeout numbers than we’ve seen from him as a Cub and there’s no reason to believe that slows down tonight.
First pitch from Wrigley is at 7:05pm CT and can be found on NBC Sports Chicago+ or 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 7, 2019