Update: Estimated start time is now 8:30 CT.
The Cubs will look to turn around a frustrating trend of faring poorly against struggling pitchers as they face Vince Velasquez and the Phillies tonight. Unlike Bronson Arroyo and Steven Wright, though, Velasquez isn’t going up there throwing in the 60’s and 70’s. His fastball sits in the mid-90’s and his change is up around 88-89 mph, all of which is actually a lot more in the Cubs’ wheelhouse.
The home team should have a little fun with their opponent’s 5+ walks per 9 innings, not to mention the longballs he’s prone to giving up. In four starts this season, Velasquez has been tagged for at least one homer in each start and has walked a total of 12 batters.
Looking to tattoo the heavily inked righty will be regular front four of Schwarbryzzobrist, though it changes a little after that. Addison Russell has the day off, so Jason Heyward slots in at fifth. He’s followed by Willson Contreras and Javy Baez, who’s playing short and batting seventh. Lefty-batting Jon Jay plays center and brings up the rear against the righty starter.
Brett Anderson will be on the mound for the Cubs, facing a Phillies lineup that has hit lephties pretty well so phar this season. Their .730 OPS ranks 11th in baseball despite a .299 OBP that ranks 20th. Which means one thing: they can slug a little bit. That power will be tested by Anderson, who’s allowed only 0.44 homer runs per 9 and who gives up fly balls at a mere 17.9 percent rate.
After being flipped with Kyle Hendricks in the rotation, Anderson will be pitching on more than a week’s rest following his longest outing in well over a calendar year. The Cubs could use a long start from their burly southpaw, and a blowout win in which they rock Velasquez early and often would be a nice touch.
The Cubs have won seven of their last 10 against the Phillies, though this team may have a little more phight than those we’ve seen over the past couple seasons. They’re phading phast behind the Nats in the NL East, but the Phils are 6-4 over their last 10 and have a +6 scoring margin on the season. Nothing spectacular, mind you, but this isn’t a team to look past.
First pitch is at 7:05 CT and will be carried by CSN+, which should be part of your cable package if you’ve got the regular CSN Chicago. If not, you can always dial up Pat and Ron on 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 1, 2017