Chicago Cubs Lineup (5/1/21): Happ Leads Off, Wolters Catching, Davies Trying to Get Right

Ian Happ plays center and returns to the leadoff spot after a mental break as the Cubs try to even the series with the Reds. The white-hot Kris Bryant is in left, Javy Báez is at short, and Anthony Rizzo cleans up. David Bote is at second, Jason Heyward is in right, and Nico Hoerner is at second. Tony Wolters makes the start behind the plate in place of Willson Contreras, who left last night with a tight thigh.

Zach Davies has been tremendously disappointing through five starts, all of which have seen him allow at least two earned runs while walking at least two batters. That wouldn’t be so bad if he hadn’t given up four or more earned runs three times while walking 15 and striking out only 14 so far. Every one of Davies’ pitches grades out negatively, including the cutter he has struggled to establish and the change that has been his best pitch by far in the past.

Hard-throwing righty Luis Castillo has had almost as rough a go of it through five starts of his own, the first of which saw him surrender 10 runs (8 earned) with no strikeouts. His fastball has lost a little zip and he may be throwing the changeup more as a way to counter that, but the results show that the plan isn’t working. Castillo’s swinging strike rate is way down as hitters have been able to make significantly more contact thus far.

That’s true to an extent on pitches in the zone, but the big change is that Castillo isn’t getting as much movement and is allowing hitters to spoil even the pitches they chase. Lefties have really gotten to him in 2021, putting up a .362 average with a .999 OPS and .425 wOBA, though righties are also seeing him pretty well.

While the Cubs haven’t traditionally done well against Castillo, boasting just a .520 OPS over 138 at-bats, Jason Heyward and Ian Happ have combined for three homers and an OPS well over 1.000 over the years. Each of them homered in their only meeting with Castillo last year, a 10-1 Cubs romp that featured three of the five dingers he allowed all season.

Here’s to hoping the rest of the lineup figures out how to hit him as well. First pitch is at 3:10pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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