Two streaks were snapped Friday as the Cubs won their first game following 10 losses and the Braves finally dropped one after winning 14 in a row. Perhaps it was Theo Epstein’s good mojo. Or maybe it was just high time the Cubs came out on the right end of a close one.
Justin Steele could sure use a little benefit from the odds Saturday because he hasn’t gotten a win since his first start of the season back on April 9. He’s 0-5 with six no-decisions since then and he’s only had two bad starts in that stretch. His last two starts have been particularly good as he logged seven innings with just one earned run in each.
Steele has been working the zone well and pitching to contact rather than going for strikeouts, which has allowed him to work deeper. He’s only notched four Ks in the last two games combined, but he’s generated grounders at nearly a 70% rate. More of that will keep the Cubs in this one.
Going for Atlanta is 26-year-old Kyle Wright, who is 7-3 with a 2.57 ERA on the season. Wright shut the Cubs down back in late April, going seven innings with one run on three hits and striking out eight against four walks. Though he typically displays good control, he’ll have occasional outings in which he can’t seem to find the zone.
Wright’s fastball and sinker both average around 95 mph and he throws them with almost the same frequency, around 22% of the time. His curve actually gets the most usage at nearly 32% and he uses it with the sinker to catch hitters off-guard. The change is also an excellent offering and it’s a big part of why Wright has such even splits.
Right-handed batters carry a higher average, but lefties reach base and slug a little better overall. On the road, however, Wright has been hit pretty hard by righties. Maybe the Cubs can maintain that trend this afternoon.
Christopher Morel will set the tone once again as the leadoff batter in center, then it’s Willson Contreras behind the plate and Rafael Ortega as the DH. Ian Happ is in left, Jonathan Villar is at third, Nico Hoerner is at short, and Jason Heyward is in right. Alfonso Rivas has been recalled and will play first with Frank Schwindel on the IL. Andrelton Simmons bats ninth at second base.
First pitch is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 18, 2022