Daniel Murphy is leading off at second base again as he makes his Cubs home debut, followed by Javy Baez at short and Anthony Rizzo at first. Ben Zobrist cleans up in right, Kyle Schwarber is fifth in left, Ian Happ plays center, Victor Caratini catches, and David Bote bats ninth at third base.
Cole Hamels just needs to keep doing what he’s done in four starts so far, which is to completely dominate the competition. Okay, that’s not entirely true. Hamels has alternated insanely stifling performances with real grinders, which means he’s due for a gem in this one. Mark the tape.
The Reds will send righty Anthony DeSclafani to the mound in the hope that he can produce a similar outcome to the last time he pitched against the Cubs. You may have wiped the memory of that dry heave of a game away, but the pitcher hit a grand slam en route to an 11-2 shellacking that was over as soon as Tucker Barnhart took Luke Farrell deep with one out in the 1st inning.
DeSclafani did give up two homers in that game, though, and he’s been very susceptible to the longball this season. But after allowing 14 homers across a string of eight starts, he hasn’t allowed one in his last three starts. He’s also struck out 16 men against only two walks in that time, pretty solid all around.
The righty will go mainly fastball/slider, with just a few more four-seamers than sinkers, and he’ll work in a curve and change for good measure. There’s not a ton of deception there and DeSclafani will give up his fair share of hits, but he can still miss some bats (7.75 K/9). A big-time fly-ball pitcher with a tendency to give up a lot of had contact, this could play right into the Cubs’ hands if they’re putting bat to ball like they did last night.
Lefties have absolutely clobbered DeSclafani this season, which is sort of a given when you pitch at Great American Ball Park. But lefty hitters have actually been even more successful when he’s on the road, building a .410 wOBA on the strength of a .647 slugging percentage. Wow. Righties, on the other hand, have stumbled to a .147 wOBA with .114 slugging. Woof.
Now, this is all in in only four total road starts for him this year, so take that all with a grain of salt. Prediction: Cubs roll in a big way tonight, Schwarber hits a massive bomb and Rizzo goes deep again as well.
First pitch is at 7:05pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago (and MLB Network for out of market folks) and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 23, 2018