Chicago Cubs Lineup (6/3/19): Schwarber Leads Off, González Bats Fifth in RF, Lester on Bump

The Cubs have lost five of their last six and seven of nine after being swept out of St. Louis, so they could really use a little home cooking against a mediocre Angels team. The Halos are coming in hot, though, winners of seven of their last 10 and looking to get back to .500 on the season (29-30).

Kyle Schwarber remains in the leadoff spot, where his patient approach may not be as ideal as you’d think on the surface. Kris Bryant bats second at third, Anthony Rizzo is at first, and Javy Báez is at short despite lingering heel issues.

The big change is former all-world slugger Carlos González batting fifth in right field. He’s been a shell of himself over the last few seasons and was recently released by the Indians, but the Cubs are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Willson Contreras is catching, Jason Heyward is in center, and Addison Russell rounds things out at second.

“I still think that I can bring a really good game to the table and, right now, I’m just waiting for every opportunity I get and try to take advantage and help a really good team like the Cubs win a division and fight for another World Series ring,” González told Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register.

He’ll get a chance to do exactly that against a pitcher who’s been crushed by lefties, though the Cubs may be thinking of more than just one game.

This is the first time the Cubs will face an “opener,” as righty Cam Bedrosian takes the bump to start the game. He hasn’t recorded more than five outs in an appearance this season, so even going into the 2nd inning isn’t likely. The numbers back his usage, as Bedrosian has limited lefties to a .423 OPS and .217 wOBA, and he’ll face at least two of them in an inning of work.

His pitch mix is simple: four-seam/slider. The fastball sets things up and the slide-piece finishes things off. Hitters aren’t going to find much success working deep counts with him, something that goes double for Schwarber.

Former Cubs great Trevor Cahill, who’s coming off of an 8.22 ERA in five May starts, is slated to take over from there. The 31-year-old righty (wait, he’s only 31?!) has been roughed up but good this season, allowing 16 homers in 53.1 innings. His 2.70 HR/9 mark is second worst in baseball among pitchers with at least 50 IP (David Hess – 3.11) and his 25% HR/FB mark is tied for first (Yu Darvish).

Cahill gives up a ton of hard contact in the air and he’s being victimized on pretty much every type of pitch he throws. He works off of a 92 mph sinker and throws a lot of curves and changeups, mixing in a slider and four-seam for effect, but none of that stuff is plus at this point. His changeup, once his best weapon, has produced negative value for him this season as hitters are timing it up.

Hey, remember the thing about Bedrosian being tough on lefties? Yeah, well, Cahill is the opposite. He’s allowing a 1.040 OPS and .430 wOBA to left-handed hitters this season, though that includes only six of his homers allowed. Righties are batting only .195 against Cahill, though they’re slugging .504 and have hammered his mistakes.

I had called an offensive breakout Sunday, but that obviously never came to pass. If they can’t get over on Cahill this afternoon, I think it’s fair to be concerned.

Opponents have been getting over on Jon Lester in a big way lately, so he’ll need to be better in this one. That all starts with the cutter, which has led to the least effective three-start stretch of his career as he has struggled with both movement and location. The Angels haven’t been particularly effective against southpaws, so maybe they’ll afford him enough leeway to fix a few things.

First pitch from Wrigley is 3:05pm CT on WGN and 670 The Score.

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