Well, this has been a fun road trip so far, huh? After two games in LA in which the Cubs jumped out to leads on the strength of early homers, you almost want to see them dig a hole for themselves to open this one. Or, you know, maybe they could just not stop scoring runs after the first couple innings.
Kyle Schwarber leads off in left, Kris Bryant is at third, Anthony Rizzo plays first, and Javy Báez is at short. Jason Heyward is in center, Victor Caratini catches, Carlos González is in right, and Addison Russell bats last at second.
I’m not sure if I’ve missed something with an injury, but why in the heck is David Bote not at second base almost every day?
Buehler…Buehler. Dodgers righty Walker Buehler will be facing the Cubs tonight coming off of two starts in which he’s allowed just one run over 15 innings. Contrary to his name, the 24-year-old has handed out just 13 free passes in 75.1 innings this season (1.55 BB/9) while shutting opponents down with an impressive repertoire of pitches.
It all starts with big fastball that can touch triple digits and sits 97, a big departure from the pair of southpaws the Cubs have seen the previous two games. Buehler also has a slider, cutter, curve, sinker, and change, almost all of which produce positive value. The offspeed pitch is the only one that gets a negative grade, but he doesn’t throw it enough to matter.
Buehler has actually posted reverse splits this season, holding lefties to a .562 OPS and .242 wOBA while righties have put up .650 and .276 to this point. But his eight home runs allowed are even on both sides of the plate and both home and away, so anyone has a chance to catch up to a heater and drive it out.
That’ll be the key for the Cubs in this one, since Buehler is going to open most at-bats with a four-seam and he works in the zone pretty frequently. For a team that has struggled all too often to string hits together and build any lasting momentum, it’s not going to be easy to change course against a power pitch with control.
So rather than being patient, perhaps the Cubs would do well to sit dead red and take their hacks. I like Bryant to continue his recent hot stretch with a booming homer in this one, and Javy is due to go off as well.
Yu Darvish will be pitching in LA for the first time since Game 7 of the 2017 World Series and he’s got a lot to prove. He says he feels much more comfortable about this start, certainly much more so than when he visited Chavez Ravine with the Cubs last season.
Even though he didn’t pitch in that series, Darvish called it the worst day of his life as he was overwhelmed by pangs of guilt over having failed to bring home a title for the LA fans. He’s already dealt with facing Jake Arrieta at Wrigley, so perhaps this outing will finally be what shakes things loose for him as a Cub.
First pitch is set for 8:10pm CT and can be found on ABC-7, MLB Network (out-of-market only), and 670 The Score.
Here is tonight's #Cubs starting lineup.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 15, 2019