Ian Happ is back in the leadoff spot and playing center, with Kris Bryant at third and Kyle Schwarber in left. Willson Contreras, who has really been tagging the ball, will bat cleanup.
Of note, Bryant continues to keep his walk and strikeout totals even, something he set as a goal this offseason.
Tommy La Stella will handle the second base duties in this one. He had a ringing double in last night’s game and would be seeing much more time were it not for the Cubs’ stacked infield. Victor Caratini again gets the nod at first as Anthony Rizzo battles a stiff back.
Jason Heyward is in right and Javy Baez slides over to short in place of Addison Russell, who has really been scalding the ball so far. Speaking of sliding, Javy has already made two tremendous hustle plays in this series and has the look of a man derermined to win games on his own.
Yu Darvish is on the bump for the second time as he looks to wash the taste of that first outing in Miami out of his mouth. Maybe it was just new-team jitters or a bad matchup, but Darvish did not look crisp. I’m expecting much more from him as he settles in and unleashes that legendary repertoire we’ve been hearing and writing so much about.
Zach Davies, aka Discount Kyle Hendricks, will be looking for a little redemption of his own coming off of a rough first start in which he allowed six earned runs on eight hits. He didn’t walk anyone, though, and that’s been a Davies hallmark over the last few seasons. Only 41 starters in baseball have a cumulative BB/9 of 2.50 or less since 2015 and Davies (2.46) is one of them.
As such, the Cubs would do well to get aggressive early. It seems at times in this young season that they’ve been too patient at the plate, watching good pitches go by and eventually getting into protect mode. Taking advantage of Davies’ tendency to work around the plate will be key, as will getting the ball in the air.
Though he works almost exclusively in the 80’s, Davies will use his sinker to get a lot of grounders. He works in a cutter, curve, and change as well, though none of his offerings can be considered exceptional by any stretch. The righty is mostly split-neutral, but does give up a much higher slugging to lefties at home (.488 vs. .413 for righties). In fact, Davies has been a little worse overall at Miller Park throughout his career.
First pitch is at 3:05pm CT and will be carried by ABC-7 (check here for info on potential local affiliates throughout the Midwest) and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 7, 2018