This game should have happened yesterday, but MLB didn’t like the notion of playing through
rain sunshine in the area. Friday’s forecast is perfect, if a little cool, so there’s no fear of another postponement. The Cubs‘ bats need to come out hot to build a lead and get back the swagger they showed on the South Side.
David Ross is going with a similar lineup to Wednesday with Ian Happ leading off, followed by Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras, who moved up from the fifth spot to bat third today. Kyle Schwarber is batting cleanup with Kris Bryant moved down two spots in the order to give him more opportunities with men on base.
Yu Darvish had a Cy Young-worth season and he’ll need to be on point to fend off a Marlins lineup that came out showing a lot more heart than the Cubs did yesterday. Even though all the scoring came on two homers in the 7th inning, the Fish had Kyle Hendricks on the ropes all afternoon and forced the action on the bases as well.
Getting an early lead and allowing Darvish to settle in isn’t imperative, but it sure would be helpful.
The Cubs are facing 22-year-old righty Sixto Sánchez, a rookie who had never pitched above Double-A prior to this short season. His repertoire is very similar to that of Sandy Alcantara, with a 99 mph four-seamer and 97 mph sinker that set up a slider and a devastating changeup. He’s got a curve as well, a pitch some services lump in with the slidepiece.
That change is firm as hell about 90 mph, faster than Hendricks’ heater, which is what makes it so great. Paired with a fastball that can touch triple digits, the offspeed stuff can get hitters all kinds of twisted up in the box. Not exactly a bright ray of sunshine given the way the Cubs looked against Alcantara on Wednesday.
Sánchez has been shaky of late, though, giving up nine earned runs in his last two starts over just seven innings. He gave up 12 hits and walked six while striking out only four in that time, so maybe he hit some kind of weird rookie wall in the short season. Opponents collected at least three hits in each of his seven starts and they walked nine times over his last three starts after taking just two free passes in his first four appearances.
That bodes well for the Cubs, but they probably shouldn’t count on launching a bunch of homers even if they get into a fastball or time up the change. Sánchez has given up just three homers, two of which came in his first start. What’s more, it’s going to be overcast with a chance of rain and temps in the mid-50s. Not exactly dinger weather.
Might have to manufacture a few runs to win this one. We’ll find out for sure at 1:08 pm CT on ABC and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 2, 2020