If the Cubs are serious about winning the division, they may want to consider not putting themselves in position to need a win to avoid road sweeps moving forward. That’s where they find themselves this afternoon in Colorado and a four-gamer against the Dodgers isn’t exactly a cakewalk, so win in this one carries even more weight.
The offense was almost non-existent last night as the bats were lulled to sleep for the second time by rookie starter Peter Lambert. Perhaps the scales tip in the other direction in this one as Kyle Schwarber looks to get locked in again as the leadoff hitter. David Bote is standing in for Kris Bryant at third base and second in the order, Anthony Rizzo is at first, and Javy Báez bats cleanup.
Carlos González bats fifth, Victor Caratini is catching, Jason Heyward is in center, and Addison Russell bats last at second base. Caratini has really been performing well both at and behind the plate, giving Joe Maddon more leeway to rest Willson Contreras, a luxury the club didn’t have last season.
They’ll be facing 24-year-old Antonio Senzatela, a righty contact pitcher who walks nearly as many as he strikes out (1.32 K/BB) and carries a 1.53 WHIP into this one. There’s really not much to break down about Senzatela’s game, since it’s pretty simple. He’s got a 93-94 mph fastball that he doesn’t locate well despite throwing it two-thirds of the time, which gets him into trouble.
His breaking stuff is good, particularly the slider, but he’s got to get ahead in the count for it to really be effective. Knowing that he goes to that fastball so frequently on first pitch and nearly 75% of the time when the batter is ahead, the Cubs need to be super aggressive and jump on this guy right away.
One thing to watch for, however, is that Senzatela has actually been a lot better at home when it comes to control. He’s walked fewer batters and struck out more at Coors in one less inning than he’s tossed on the road. That said, lefties should be able to get to him as they have all season. Perhaps the duo of Schwarber and Rizzo can do something about that single homer allowed to lefties at home.
Speaking of southpaws, Cole Hamels is on the mound for the Cubs coming off of two incredible performances against the Cardinals. Hamels allowed no earned runs on just five hits and three walks, striking out 14 over 15 innings. The Cubs could use more of that tonight and Hamels’ career at Coors says he can do it.
That 3.79 ERA in six starts isn’t sparkling, but he’s struck out 33 against only seven walks and has allowed only four homers in 38 innings. If he can stay sharp and avoid the command issues that cropped up for a stretch earlier in the season, Hamels can indeed play the role of stopper.
First pitch is set for 2:10pm CT and can be seen on NBC Sports Chicago and MLB Network (out-of-market) or heard on 670 The Score.
Here is today's #Cubs starting lineup.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 12, 2019