Chicago Cubs Lineup (7/21/19): Schwarber Leads Off, Garcia at 2B, Maldonado Catching, Hendricks Pitching for Sweep

The Cubs have a chance to secure their second sweep in three series since the break, but they might want to try playing a cleaner brand of baseball in this one. That starts with Kyle Schwarber, who’s leading off for the first time in three games. He was probably slated there due to the Padres initially going with a righty starter, but it would’ve been tough to leave Schwarber out again regardless.

Javy Báez bats second at short, Kris Bryant bats and plays third, Anthony Rizzo cleans up, and Robel Garcia handles second base. The Italian Stallion is an extra-base machine and has been well worth his promotion so far, though he’s may not be the most ideal long-term solution. Given Addison Russell’s sloppy play and David Bote’s strikeout struggles, Garcia should see even more time in the lineup.

Jason Heyward is in right, Albert Almora Jr. is in center and hitting lower in the order as he should be, while Martín Maldonado catches.

The initial plan was for 24-year-old rookie Cal Quantrill to take the bump as the starter, but he’ll now be the primary pitcher behind opener Adrian Morejon. We’ll discuss the southpaw’s MLB debut in a bit, but let’s get to Quantrill first. Paul’s kid, the eighth overall pick just three years ago, will be making the ninth start and 13th total appearance of his career as he continues to feel his way around the majors.

Quantrill has transitioned from the rotation to the bullpen and back as the Padres look to bring him along and build his confidence. After getting out to a 5.23 ERA over six starts, the righty made four relief appears and gave up just one run in that time. This will be his third start back in the rotation, so he should be stretched out to a full workload by now.

You’d think a guy with a 95 mph fastball would be more of a strikeout pitcher, but Quantrill has notched more than five K’s only twice this season. While he can definitely miss some bats with a repertoire that features equal parts four-seam and sinker, with a slider and change making up about 20% apiece, he lacks a real put-away pitch.

The sinker is easily Quantrill’s best pitch and he’ll need to get ahead with it to make the secondaries work. His change has been downright bad at times this season, part of the reason left-handed hitters have gotten over him. Giving up a .942 OPS to lefties isn’t going to lead to success, but righties only have a paltry .515 mark.

Since I didn’t have much time for a full scouting report, here’s what FanGraphs said about Morejon in their pre-season prospect list:

He has plus velocity, but loses a tick of perceived velo due to lack of extension, and his arm angle and spin direction are more conducive of sink/run that bat-missing rise. He will flash a plus changeup, and that pitch will likely be his best at maturity. The breaking stuff is closer to average. He was mechanically inconsistent this spring and has once again been placed on the IL with shoulder/back issues. There are days when Morejon’s stuff and style of pitching resembles Jesus Luzardo’s, but the injury stuff might force a bullpen move.

This will be a great test for Morejon, Quantrill, and the Cubs, as it’ll be the pitchers’ inexperience against the home team’s seeming inability to handle young pitchers. Perhaps it’s time to change that latter narrative.

Kyle Hendricks is going for the Cubs in his fourth start off the IL and he’ll need to be a little sharper to get the W. His typical precision hasn’t been there lately, but he’s shown signs of getting back on track. Avoiding walks and homers, especially with the way the Pads can pound the ball, may be the difference in this one.

First pitch is at 1:20pm CT on WGN and 670 The Score.

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