It’s difficult to imagine a better momentum-booster than the last 10 innings of baseball the Cubs have played. In that time, they outscored the Brewers 16-0 to come back on Josh Hader and then witness the 16th no-hitter in franchise history. Not even a day off should be able to steal the juice from that squeeze, and a little rest might have actually been good for them.
With two days off this week, David Ross is guaranteed a fresh pitching staff as his team finishes the last two weeks of the season. Now it’s time for the position players to pick it up and ensure they don’t go through 17-inning stretches of being shut out.
Ian Happ is leading off in center, Kris Bryant is back at third, Anthony Rizzo is at first, and Willson Contreras is the DH. Kyle Schwarber bats fifth in left, Javy Báez continues to hit down in the lineup, Jason Heyward is in right, and Jason Kipnis is at second. Victor Caratini rounds things out as the catcher.
Yu Darvish is on the mound after one of his worst starts of the season, which is really saying something because he still struck out nine and gave up just two hits. Both of those came in the 1st inning, with the big blow coming off the bat of Mike Moustakas following two walks in the inning. Darvish settled down after that and cruised through five more innings, but the damage was done.
He didn’t face Cleveland when the Cubs played there earlier and doesn’t have a great deal of experience against the members of their roster. Besides, he’s a different pitcher now than he was over the previous few seasons, so it’s really difficult to make comparisons. The bottom line is that pitching his game will mean shutting his opponents down.
It won’t be easy with Carlos “Cookie” Carrasco on the mound for Cleveland, even if the Indians have lost six in a row. Carrasco has allowed just two earned runs over his last three starts (19 IP) and doesn’t surrender a lot of hard contact. He has, however, walked five batters in that time to contribute to an abnormally high 3.67 BB/9 number.
The Cubs will see mainly a fastball/change/slider mix with the occasional curve and sinker thrown in for good measure. They were able to navigate his stuff quite well last month, waiting Carrasco out for five walks and getting three runs against him to hand him the loss. This could be a game in which the Cubs’ relatively passive plate approach plays in their favor, at least if the home plate ump is calling a tight zone.
Left-handed batters appear to be seeing the 33-year-old righty really well and are reaching base at a .346 clip by drawing 14 of the 20 walks he’s issued. If that trend continues in this one, the Cubs should be able to manufacture a run or three.
First pitch from Wrigley is at 7:15pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 15, 2020