The Cubs have some reinforcements as they prepare to play spoiler with the Phillies in town. Willson Contreras has been activated from the IL, where he’s been since the end of August, and Seiya Suzuki is off the restricted list after returning from Japan to be with his wife and baby. Philly is only 1.5 games up on Milwaukee in the Wild Card standings, so this series could be big when it comes to determining postseason participation.
Zach McKinstry will lead off at third base, Esteban Quiroz is at second, and Contreras is the DH. Ian Happ is in left, Nico Hoerner‘s arm has healed enough to let him play short, and Patrick Wisdom is in right. Yan Gomes is the catcher, Alfonso Rivas is at first, and Christopher Morel is in center.
Marcus Stroman is on the mound looking to put together two good home starts in a row for the first time this season. He’s pitched much better on the road all season and has been very inconsistent at Wrigley to this point, but maybe he can break that trend tonight.
Zack Wheeler is on the mound for the Phillies as he rounds out yet another excellent campaign. Though it’s not quite up to the performance that had him in the Cy Young conversation most of last year, Wheeler is putting up excellent numbers. He strikes out more than one batter per inning and walks very few while also limiting home runs.
Even though his fastball is down a tick from last season, he locates it with pinpoint accuracy and it remains his best pitch by far. Wheeler is throwing the slider more than ever, just over 27%, and his curveball is up slightly to about 12% this year. Expect him to pound the zone early in an attempt to get ahead and let the secondaries work.
Wheeler throws first-pitch strikes at a 67.1% clip, higher than all but nine other pitchers with at least 120 innings this year. If the Cubs can sit on some of those and get up early, they may be able to provide Stroman and the rest of the staff with enough of a cushion to keep the Phillies’ mashers at bay.
First pitch is set for 6:40pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 27, 2022