It’s a rematch of Opening Night as Jon Lester and Carlos Martinez take the mound for their respective teams Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium. Martinez dominated the Cubs in that first outing, striking out 10 while scattering six hits. He’s looked significantly more beatable since, however, allowing 18 earned runs (and six homers) in six subsequent starts.
With a fastball in the mid-90’s, Martinez can really heat things up to offset a power slider and a change that sits in the upper 80’s. If the change isn’t working, though, he can really get into trouble with it. The Cubs fell victim to it in a big way during that first game, but it’s failed Martinez since then for the most part. That could be a big key to tonight’s game, so keep an eye on how he’s able to locate the offspeed stuff.
Familiarity will also come into play this afternoon, as this will be Martinez’s 21st appearance and 11th start against the Cubs, the most he’s had against any opponent. Among teams he’s faced five or more times, only the Rockies (1.887), Padres (1.543), and Dodgers (1.394) have cracked him for a higher WHIP than the Cubs (1.377).
They’ll have their work cut out for them as Kris Bryant is out for the second straight game after falling ill moments before first pitch on Friday. Let this be a reminder to you: Never eat provel-covered St. Louis-style pizza. Provel is what Big Baller Brand would come up with if they made cheese. It is an abomination and a crime against nature.
The late scratch forced Joe Maddon to improvise, inserting Jon Jay in the two-hole. Jay’s subsequent back spasms forced further changes in the 2nd inning, with Tommy La Stella coming in to replace him. Jason Heyward is out until at least Tuesday with a sprained finger, so the Cubs are playing with a short bench and will need big contributions from the starters. I’m talking to you, Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist.
Or maybe they’ll just lean on their prospects, what with Jeimer Candelario and Ian Happ both in the lineup. Happ is basically taking over for Bryant, both in the field and in the order, and he’ll be thrown right into the fray as he bats second in his major league debut.
Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo are protecting Happ in the lineup, with Candelario playing third and batting cleanup, and La Stella at second batting fifth. Then they’ve got Willson Contreras looking to continue mashing at Busch, with Javy Baez at short and Albert Almora Jr. playing center.
Batting eighth will be the man who’s gotten into the Cardinals’ collective head without even throwing a pitch.
Cards really prepping for JL.Had a "pitcher" mound with runner on first base take off…pitcher ran towards 2nd and fake underhanded a throw
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) May 13, 2017
Lester is working on an extra day of rest after going 120 pitches in that double-length game against the Yankees last Sunday that may have been his best effort of the year. He pitched well against the Cardinals that first time out too, but only lasted 5 innings. That’s been sort of a theme for Lester, who has only gotten to the 7th inning twice in seven starts.
In 10 career starts (64.1 IP) against the Cards, Lester has posted a 1.96 ERA with 65 strikeouts and only 16 walks. He’s limited the Redbirds to a .594 OPS and has allowed only four home runs. His numbers are even better in 27 innings at Busch, where he boasts a 1.00 ERA with 28 K’s, six walks, and only a single home runs, good for a meager .514 OPS against.
FS1 has the national broadcast today at 3:05 CT, but you can check your local affiliates to see whether anyone’s carrying the ABC-7 broadcast.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 13, 2017