Anthony Rizzo leads off again, and for good reason. He’s on fire at the top of the order since being inserted back there just before the break. We’ll see if he can keep it up and give Kris Bryant someone to drive in. Jason Heyward bats third, Javy Baez cleans up, and Ian Happ bats fifth and plays center in this one.
Kyle Schwarber is in left, Willson Contreras is catching, and Addison Russell plays short.
It’s been 11 days since Jose Quintana made one of his best starts in the season, so the Cubs are hoping he’s got enough gas in the tank to really go long in this one. Q being at the back of the rotation to start the second half was a little surprising, particularly since they’d held him back at the end of the first half.
But as pitching coach Jim Hickey explained a few days ago on Mully and Hanley, the lefty had been experiencing a little shoulder fatigue, which you can take one of two ways. Either it’s incredibly minor and will be completely alleviated by the time he takes the bump Sunday or it’s a potential chronic issue that could compound the difficulties of playing 12 games in 11 days to open the half.
Going against the Cardinals could be a good thing for Quintana, as he’s pitched well in two previous appearances against them this season. Though they’ve scored five total runs on him in nine innings, only two of those were earned. That first start saw him walk four, so that’ll have to come down for him to be successful this time.
On the mound for St. Louis will be mustachioed magician Miles Mikolas, making his second start against the Cubs this season. He was stellar in that first one, shutting them out over seven innings despite allowing seven hits. It helps when you don’t walk anyone.
The book may be getting around on Mikolas, though, and his ERA has crept up closer to 4.00 in the last month. Then again, he’s still under 2.5 BB/9 and has allowed only two home runs over his last 40 innings. Mikolas has an almost even mix of four-seam/slider/sinker/curve, all of which he’ll throw more than 20 percent of the time.
The hard stuff will sit 95 and he mixes the breaking balls in nicely to keep hitters guessing. He’s not a big-time whiff-getter, so Mikolas will pitch to contact and let his defense do the work. He keeps the ball on the ground and in the park and he doesn’t walk many, so this is a good time for the Cubs to maybe turn the tables on him.
Watching too many pitches probably won’t work too well, neither will swinging for the fences. They just need to go out there and pass the baton to the next guy. Mikolas has pretty marked splits, too, so the lefty hitters will need to come up big.
First pitch of the series finale is at 1:20pm CT and can be seen on ABC-7 and TBS (out of market only).
Here is today's #Cubs starting lineup for the series finale.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 22, 2018