It’s Friday the 13th and I see a full moon risin’ as the Cubs kick off the final homestand of the season, so this could get weird. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the next three games are huge, as are the seven that follow them, so the home team really needs to lock it down against a clearly inferior opponent.
That starts with Anthony Rizzo, who’s leading off again with a lefty on the mound. Nicholas Castellanos is in right, Kris Bryant bats and plays third, Willson Contreras is back behind the plate, Kyle Schwarber is in left, and Nico Hoerner makes his Wrigley debut at short. David Bote at second and Albert Almora Jr. in center round things out.
Steven Brault, he of the super-cool bio-mech sleeves, will be facing the Cubs for the first time since absolutely dominating them about a month ago in Pittsburgh. The southpaw swingman has been much better as a starter this season, including an outing on August 17 in which he allowed the Cubs just one run on two hits. He struck out a season-high eight batters with one walk and pitched a season-high seven innings.
It goes without saying that a repeat of that performance is highly unlikely, but Brault is exactly the kind of pitcher against whom the Cubs have had trouble this year. He has a low-90’s fastball and sinker that he offsets with a very good slider and plus change and doesn’t give up many homers.
Not a big strikeout guy, Brault will avoid the heart of the zone and keeps hitters from squaring him up by working the fringes with his breaking and offspeed stuff. He’s been tough against lefties, holding them to a .601 OPS and .261 wOBA, but righties are at .782 and .336, respectively. However, he’s been much worse against lefties on the road, allowing a .927 OPS and .388 wOBA that includes both lefty homers he’s allowed.
Jon Lester hasn’t been great this season, and that’s putting it way too mildly. The overall numbers are ugly, bruised by some really awful performances that have come with increasing frequency, and he just can’t put batters away consistently. He seems to back a really terrible game with a pair of decent ones, though, so maybe he’s got something up his sleeve following that eight-run outburst by the Brewers last week.
First pitch is a little later than usual following the return from San Diego, so the game starts at 3:05pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago and MLB Network (out-of-market), with 670 The Score on the radio call.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 13, 2019