Chicago Cubs Lineup (5/20/21): Pederson Leads Off, Rizzo Returns, Higgins Catching, Williams on Bump

Joc Pederson leads off the series finale in left, Anthony Rizzo is back in the lineup at first base, Javy Báez is at short, and Ian Happ cleans up in center. David Bote is at third, Nico Hoerner is at second, Nick Martini is in right, and PJ Huggins is the catcher.

Trevor Williams really needs to be better in this game, simple as that. He hasn’t recorded an out in the 6th inning since his Cubs debut in early April and he hasn’t even made it to the 5th in any of his last three. His ERA has risen to 6.27 and even with a little bad luck inflating that number, his 5.07 FIP says he’s been slightly below mediocre at best. A career-worst walk rate is offsetting a career-best strikeout rate, indicating Williams is missing the zone too often.

The good news is that the Cubs’ opponent in this one, Joe Ross, is very well acquainted with mediocrity in his own right. The 27-year-old has seen his ERA increase in each of the last four seasons to its current 5.80 and his FIP has remained right in line for the most part. He’s not a big strikeout artist, he walks a lot of batters, and he’s giving up a good deal of hard contact.

Ross is a big sinker/slider pitcher who sits about 94 mph on the hard stuff and can get outs with his primary pitches when he’s on. However, his four-seam doesn’t have great life and his changeup has fooled no one, so he’s had a hard time making things work with just two offerings.

Left-handed hitters have gone off against Ross this season, putting up a .900 OPS with a .386 wOBA, though righties have hit five of the eight home runs he’s given up. This Cubs lineup has done very little against Ross in the past, somehow struggling to a .642 OPS despite drawing 12 walks and only striking out eight times. They have no homers in 52 at-bats, so you have to figure something changes there.

Then again, this could be one of those really frustrating affairs in which we all keep wondering how the Cubs are being stifled by a regular Joe.

First pitch is set for 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score. If you’re in-market and in the the market for a new television provider, check out a free preview of fuboTV.

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