Chicago Cubs Lineup (4/13/22): Ortaga DH, Villar at 2B, Hendricks Making Second Start
The Cubs battered the Brewers with a bevy of bases on balls and base hits, but bashing bombs became something of an afterthought. To that end, Seiya Suzuki‘s three-run shot Sunday was wasted as the Cubs blew the early lead it provided. It was fitting, then, that the right fielder provided all of his team’s offense with two solo dingers (first here, second here) in Tuesday’s win.
Two runs were all they needed because the pitching has been great for the most part, led by a group of starters that has been dialed in from Opening Day. Kyle Hendricks had the changeup working as well as ever last week and he’s back on the bump for the second time thanks to a pair of off-days shortening the rotation the first time through.
Hendricks got 19 whiffs on the change, 12 of which came on the 18 offspeed pitches he threw to right-handed batters. That 80% swinging-strike rate isn’t sustainable, but it’s still a very good sign moving forward. The Professor has always been confident in that right-on-right change, so watch for that again in this one. Maybe the offense can provide more than two runs just in case.
Rafael Ortega will get the party started as the DH, followed by Frank Schwindel at first and Willson Contreras behind the plate. Ian Happ is in left, Suzuki is in right, and Jason Heyward is in center. Patrick Wisdom handles the hot corner, Jonathan Villar is the second baseman, and Nico Hoerner is at short.
Hoerner has been flashing some serious leather and showing off a much stronger arm than many believed he possessed, which presents a very strong case for him to remain the everyday shortstop. Schwindel and Wisdom, on the other hand, have not done much other than stoke fears of regression. Is it weird to worry about such things after four games?
Righty Zach Thompson will be trying to limit the Cubs this afternoon as he gets his first shot to work as a full-time starter. The 28-year-old was drafted by the White Sox in the fifth round back in 2014 and spent six seasons in their organization, working mainly as a reliever for the last three of those. Thompson was with the Marlins last year, making 14 starts in 26 total appearances and posting a 3.24 ERA with strong peripherals.
Not a big strikeout guy, he did a great job of limiting home runs and had a very nice .269 BABIP that would indicate he was the recipient of good luck. A 4.65 xFIP backs that up, so perhaps he’s the real candidate for regression here.
Thompson loves his cutter and will throw it about 35% of the time, more than any of his other offerings. His four-seam sits around 92 and isn’t a dangerous pitch at all, nor is the curve he flips up there about 17% of the time. His changeup has been effective, though, so letting him get ahead in counts allows him to mix it with the cutter to keep hitters from getting solid contact.
In two starts against the Cubs last season, the righty went 10 innings and allowed just two total runs (one earned) on four hits. He had 10 strikeouts with three walks and generally kept the Cubs from squaring anything up. Let’s hope those results are flipped today.
This is an early one, with first pitch scheduled for 11:35am CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
Here is today's #Cubs starting lineup in Pittsburgh! pic.twitter.com/mZ3AC8B7HB
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 13, 2022