Ben Zobrist is leading off tonight playing second base, followed by Kyle Schwarber, Nicholas Castellanos, and Anthony Rizzo. Kris Bryant is back and he’s batting 5th in the order, followed by Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward. Joe Maddon made good on his promise to start Nico Hoerner, who’s slotted at shortstop batting 8th in the order.
They’re facing 23-year-old righty Ronald Bolaños, who is making just his second big-league start after making 23 starts between High-A and Double-A. He’s got a big fastball that sits mid-90’s and makes up nearly 70% of his offerings, with a slider, curve, and change setting it off. Those secondaries need some work if he’s going to remain in the rotation, but the Cubs have managed to make mediocre stuff look incredible at times.
Absent much information on Bolaños due to his general lack of experience, we can turn to FanGraphs’ profile of him from the start of the season.
Signed for just over $2 million late during the summer of 2016, Bolaños is a pretty standard fifth starter/middle relief prospect. His changeup and command both need to improve if he’s going to be a clean rotation fit, but if they don’t, his fastball (which lives 91-95 as a starter, but would hopefully tick up out of the bullpen) and slurvy breaking ball are typical of solid middle relievers.
Bolaños had a decent debut, allowing two earned runs on five hits and two walks while pitching six innings against the red-hot Diamondbacks. Because he was really erratic in the minors, making four scoreless starts while giving up five or more runs four times over his last 15 appearances, it’s possible he’s sitting on a stinker.
Interestingly enough, though, he has done a really good job of keeping the ball in the yard. His minor-league career average of 0.75 HR/9 is indicative of a guy who keeps the ball out of the air, and that has remained the case even with the obviously juiced balls being used in the minors.
With decent command and an ability to avoid big flies, Bolaños could be a formidable opponent. However, he’s young and highly unproven with a propensity for giving up runs in bunches if he gets into a rut.
José Quintana has been really good lately, but he’s allowed four earned runs in two of his last three starts and he hasn’t really been putting hitters away. Should the Cubs be able to get out to an early lead, it’d be great to see Q get more aggressive and force hitters to beat him rather than dancing around.
First pitch is once again at 9:10pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago+, MLB Network (out-of-market), and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 10, 2019