Rafael Ortega leads off in center as the Cubs face one of the few inferior opponents they have left in MLB. Frank Schwindel might be the greatest player in history and he’ll bat second while playing first, followed by Ian Happ in left and Patrick Wisdom at third. Matt Duffy is at…short?! Jason Heyward plays right, David Bote is at second, and Austin Romine is behind the plate.
Zach Davis was excellent against the Marlins his last time out after a pair of starts in which he gave up seven earned runs apiece. He’s only walked one batter in each of his last two starts, the first time he’s done that all season, and his four walks in the last three starts ties his lowest total across that many games at any point this year.
Going for the Royals is 26-year-old Brad Keller, who is 7-12 with a 5.62 ERA across 24 starts this season. Walks have really hurt the burly righty, as he’s handed out three or more free passes on 11 occasions and has 59 total against 109 strikeouts. That’s not great when combined with 149 hits, third-most in baseball.
Kyle Hendricks actually leads MLB with 159 hits, but Keller’s 1.21 hit per inning mark is easily tops among all of his peers. Between the walks and hits, you’re looking at a 1.69 WHIP that is anything but nice as it sits 0.21 ahead of the next-closest qualified pitcher. The moral of the story is that the Cubs should have plenty of baserunners.
Keller’s hard stuff sits around 94 mph and he goes to the fastball and two-seam at about 30% apiece, but his slider is his favorite pitch at nearly 35% usage. That’s because it’s technically his best pitch, though only because neither his hard stuff nor his seldom-used change has been effective. The sinker has actually approached mediocre and Keller gets a fair number of grounders, but he misses very few bats and isn’t in the zone much.
You won’t find many pitchers with more even splits, as both right- and left-handed batters carry a .301 average with OBP, slugging, and wOBA marks separated by no more than 11 points. What’s interesting, though, is that Keller has been much better against righties at home and much worse against them on the road. When pitching as the visitor, right-handed batters have a .341/.432/.561 slash so far.
Sounds like a good opportunity for Wisdom to go boom. We’ll see if the Cubs can stretch their streak to three when the game starts at 1:20pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 20, 2021