Chicago Cubs Lineup (4/16/21): Happ Leads Off, Sogard at Second, Davies on Mound

The Cubs will all be wearing No. 42 in honor of the late Jack Roosevelt Robinson today, a number that looks a helluva lot better next to pretty much ever name than would their hitting metrics. Ian Happ leads off in center, followed by Willson Contreras at catcher, Anthony Rizzo at first, and Kris Bryant at third. Joc Pederson is in left, Javy Báez is at short, Jason Heyward is in right, and Eric Sogard rounds things out at second.

Remember when David Ross said Nico Hoerner would be starting in the minors because David Bote had won the keystone job? That was fun. While I have said for well over a year that Hoerner needs more time to develop in the minors, not to mention how having a timeshare in Chicago isn’t best for his long-term growth, the putrid production from the Cubs’ second basemen makes it hard to argue against Hoerner’s promotion.

Just to be clear, I don’t believe this is a service-time issue.

As for Sogard getting the start over Bote, you can’t make the argument that it’s a matter of handedness. The lefty-batting Sogard has virtually even splits for his career while Bote has historically been better against righties. I don’t get this. Even with Bote hitting a paltry .107 to Sogard’s .136, the former has been hitting the ball hard and represents far greater upside.

Anyway, Zach Davies is on the mound trying to wash out the taste for what was probably the worst start of his career in Pittsburgh the other day. I’d recommend he pitch around Ronald Acuña Jr. and take his chances with the rest of the lineup.

Old friend Drew Smyly was supposed to be on the mound for this one, but he has been placed on the IL due to left forearm inflammation. In his place, rookie Kyle Wright has been called up to take the bump for the first time this season. Mainly a sinker/slider guy, Wright throws in the mid-90’s and has very firm offspeed stuff. His change sits about 88 mph and his power slider will touch 90.

The changeup has gotten him in trouble before, though, and he’s had a lot of trouble finding the plate in his two previous stints with the big club. That tendency to fall behind hitters has led to a lot of walks and 11 homers in under 59 career innings. Boy howdy, could the Cubs use a get-right game in this one. He has never faced any member of today’s lineup and Jake Arrieta is the only member of the roster who’s seen Wright.

As such, this could be an object lesson in advance scouting. Opposing pitchers seem to have veritable encyclopedias when it comes to facing the Cubs, while it feels at times that the North Siders are reading choose-your-own-adventure books and guessing at what’s coming their way. There’s also been a trope of the Cubs struggling against pitchers they’ve never seen before, so let’s hope that is rendered false.

First pitch from Wrigley is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.

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