Chicago Cubs Lineup (5/31/21): Pederson Leads Off, Bryant 1B, Stewart Pitching to Close May

The Cubs are still operating with a patchwork lineup, but that could change soon as Anthony Rizzo, Jake Marisnick, and Jason Heyward were all going through agility and running drills Monday morning. In the meantime, Joc Pederson leads off in left, followed by Kris Bryant at first and Javier Baez at short. Ian Happ is in center, Willson Contreras is catching, Rafael Ortega is in right, Patrick Wisdom is at third, and Eric Sogard is at second.

Trevor Williams was originally slated to start today’s game, but he underwent an emergency appendectomy Sunday morning and has been placed on the IL. Don’t fact-check me on this, but it may be the first time the Cubs have ever put anyone on the IL within a day of an issue. Coming up from Triple-A to make his Cubs debut is 26-year-old Kohl Stewart, a former No. 4 overall pick by the Twins who hasn’t quite been able to put it together in the bigs.

Stewart has a 3.68 ERA in four starts for the Iowa Cubs, striking out 23 and walking just five in 22 innings. He’s got legit stuff and could open some eyes in this one, plus he’s filling a spot that has largely been disappointing so far. After sitting out the 2020 season due to being a Type 1 diabetic, Stewart has a renewed focus and is looking to make good on the talent that made him a top draft pick.

Opposing the Cubs will be 25-year-old righty Chris Paddack, a changeup artist whose repertoire features some of the least diversity you’ll find in a starter. Paddack has a 95 mph fastball that he throws about 60% of the time, then comes the change at 30%, after which he’ll mix in a curve and cutter for the rest.

He has allowed just four homers in 42.1 innings so far and hasn’t given up more than four hits in any of his last four starts, so this could be a frustrating afternoon for Cubs hitters. Paddack is a strike-thrower who doesn’t miss a lot of bats, though, so perhaps the BABIP gods will smile upon the home team in this one.

Paddack’s Vulcan changeup is the product of his work with Cubs legend Calvin Schiraldi, who was Paddack’s summer ball coach back in high school. In addition to getting it to drop off the table, he’s also shown the ability to front-door lefties up in the zone with it. Having that weapon has led to almost identical splits over the course of his career, though amping up the fastball has Paddack dominating left-handed batters this season.

That also means right-handed hitters are doing a little better against him than in the past, OPS-ing .797 so far. It’s hard to figure how he’ll match up with this Cubs team since Joc Pederson is the only one who’s faced him more than three times. A total of seven at-bats for the rest of the roster came in 2019, so those aren’t even worthwhile indicators in any regard.

May closes with a tough matchup that gives way to a June that looks like a meat grinder, so let’s hope the Cubs can end the month and start the series on a high note. First pitch is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score, with the former included in your free preview of fuboTV.

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