The Cubs are too good a team to crack after laying an egg, but they’re going to have to throw off the yoke of blah to hatch a win against the Beermakers. Joe Maddon scrambled the lineup just a bit, putting Jason Heyward back in the leadoff spot and playing right field. Kris Bryant slides back to third, with Anthony Rizzo at first and Javy Báez at short.
Willson Contreras is catching, Kyle Schwarber is in left, David Bote is at second, and Albert Almora Jr. is batting eighth in center.
Zach Davies is currently 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA as he continues to outpace the regression monster nipping at his heels. That 0.67 HR/9 mark is well below what was already a stingy career number (0.96), part of why his 3.91 FIP and 4.83 xFIP look so much more robust.
Davies is the same pitcher the Cubs have seen many times over the past few years, a soft-tosser with a sinker/changer combo that he uses to avoid barrels. He’s not going to strike out many batters and he may walk a few as he nibbles at the zone, but he just hasn’t given up any big hits this year. Seriously, he’s allowed no more than two runs in any game to this point.
That has to change this afternoon and it will if the Cubs can get his timing town. The sinker (63.4%) and change (26.4%) make up nearly 90% of his total offerings, so it’s all about picking out the right pitch and doing damage. Or it could simply be a matter of patiently waiting him out if his control falters. Because of his general lack of a swing-and-miss pitch, hitters can afford to get into deep counts and see if they can find something to drive.
Going for the Cubs is Cole Hamels, who’s winless in his last three starts and has displayed moderate-to-severe control issues in that time. His 11 walks are exactly 11 more than he’d issued in the previous three starts, though 21 strikeouts in that time offset the wildness a bit. He’ll need to be better against a Brewers team that took advantages of free passes yesterday.
That starts with avoiding Ryan Braun, who’s been hot lately and can actually hit on the road. Christian Yelich is still a threat, though, even if his reverse-Superman powers are hampered by the Earth’s yellow sun. But with a cloudy afternoon perhaps emulating the gloomy ambience created by the Miller Park lighting crew, Hamels needs to be wary.
First pitch is at 1:20pm CT and can be seen on ABC 7 or heard on 670 The Score.
Here is today's #Cubs starting lineup.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 11, 2019