Here is tonight's #Cubs starting lineup.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 25, 2019
The Cubs lineup Tuesday features a couple of changes from Monday’s version. Carlos González and Jason Heyward get the night off, with Albert Almora Jr. getting the start in center as Addison Russell gets in at second base. Kris Bryant heads to the outfield tonight with David Bote sliding over to third base after getting the start at second on Monday.
They’ll be facing 25-year-old lefty Max Fried, who absolutely dominated them in his first start of the season back on April 4 in Atlanta. Fried allowed just one hit and struck out five and walked none over six innings in that one, but he’s been a little less sharp since then.
Though he works with the typical fastball/curveball combo you expect from a southpaw, Fried can dial up the velocity a little higher than most of the others the Cubs have seen lately. He sticks with the four-seam for nearly 60% of his pitches, sitting about 94 mph, then comes in with a looping curve nearly 20 ticks slower.
He’s also got a changeup, but the slider has been his best pitch by far at this point. He will throw the slide-piece mainly to lefties, mainly as an out-pitch, so that’s something to watch for. Rather than let him get to that point, the Cubs need to jump on the fastballs he’ll throw for about 70% of his first pitches. Fried throws a lot of first-pitch strikes and doesn’t walk many batters, so an aggressive approach should pay off.
Adbert Alzolay dazzled in his debut last week, earning the win in relief, and now he’ll get a chance to do the same in his first MLB start. Showcasing a fastball that sat 94-96 and punctuating it with a tight breaking ball, Alzolay became the first Cub in the expansion era (since 1961) to strike out four straight batters.
But the real story was his changeup, which Alzolay said after the game felt better than at any point in his career. That’s really saying something because he’s been working to develop that pitch for the last couple years. If that can be a weapon for him moving forward, he’s got a spot in the rotation locked down into the future.
Even though he’ll have a whole new set of nerves from his first start, the rookie could very well be aided by a return to his standard routine. Regardless of the specifics of his outing, I’m willing to guarantee it’ll be fun as hell to watch Alzolay work tonight.
First pitch is set for 7:05pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago+ and 670 The Score.