Albert Almora Jr. is the everyday leadoff man, which isn’t something many of us saw coming this spring. He’s followed tonight by Kyle Schwarber, who moves up to the two-hole after raking lower in the order for the last several games. Javy Baez, who has been an extra-base machine, drops down to three.
Anthony Rizzo is cleaning up and Tommy La Stella is back in for Kris Bryant once again. KB is awaiting clearance from the team doctor but is expected to play in this series. Victor Caratini is catching, Addison Russell is at short, and Jason Heyward is in right.
Can Kyle Hendricks make it three straight starters to reach the 7th inning after none had done so through the first 19 games? Let’s hope so, since that would mean a good start against a team that has rattled off eight straight wins coming into Thursday’s matchup. Hendricks’ worst start of the young season came in Milwaukee earlier in the month, so something tells me he’ll be looking to even things out.
In that first meeting, Hendricks allowed four earned on nine hits (two homers) and a walk. What’s more, he only struck out one batter over five innings of work. He’s given up home runs in each of his last three starts and hasn’t been as sharp as we’re used to seeing, but perhaps a return home will do him well.
.@Cubs fans, take a moment and get caught up on tonight’s starting pitcher!
— Baseball Infographica (@BBInfographica) April 26, 2018
It’ll also help that Eric Thames won’t be in the lineup. The Brewers slugger hit one of the aforementioned dingers against Hendricks but was so frightened by the thought of running into Willson Contreras that he tore a ligament in his thumb just to avoid this series. And the next 6-8 weeks.
Chase Anderson is on the bump for the Brewers for the sixth time already this season and he’s had a really weird go of it so far. His 3.25 ERA is quite good but that 5.90 FIP tells you he’s gotten pretty lucky. That unsustainable .197 BABIP against says the same thing.
Anderson won’t blow anyone away with velocity, but he works in the low 90’s with his fastball and his repertoire includes a sinker, cutter, curve, and change that can keep hitters guessing. The latter two were particularly dangerous last year and have been even more so this year. In fact, both pitches rank sixth in MLB in terms of runs saved.
Though he hasn’t historically given up an inordinate amount of homers, Anderson has been stung by the longball this season. Ben Zobrist tagged him when these teams met a couple weeks ago and both the Cardinals and Marlins have had multi-homer games against the 30-year-old righty.
Anderson isn’t going to walk a lot of batters, so he should be around the zone all night. He gives up more contact and misses fewer bats than the average pitcher, which could bode well for the Cubs if they look to jump on him early. They’re also going to need to wait back on the breaking and offspeed stuff, since that’s about a third of what they’ll see tonight.
First pitch is set for 7:10pm CT and can be seen on NBC Sports Chicago+ or MLB Network (out of market only). You can also listen to Pat and Coom Dawg on 670 The Score or through whatever magic portal you use to access the information superhighway.
Here is tonight's #Cubs lineup as we open a seven-game homestand.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 26, 2018