Chicago Cubs Lineup (9/7/19): Albert Almora Jr. Leads Off, David Bote Bats 5th, Victor Caratini Catching

Albert Almora Jr., who is batting .212 with a .230 wOBA against lefties this season, leads off against the Brewers in the middle of a pennant race. The usual trio of Nicholas Castellanos, Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant follows, with David Bote batting fifth. In limited playing time (35 PA) since August 1, Bote has hit .462 with a .537 wOBA.

Batting sixth is the scorching hot Kyle Schwaber, who absolutely mashed a grand slam off tough lefty reliever Drew Pomeranz on Thursday. I got money on Schwarber going yard again tonight. Addison Russell and Victor Caratini round out the lineup in the seventh and eighth spots with Darvish batting ninth.

The Cubs are facing Gio González, who has flat-out baffled the Cubs in four starts this season just as he has throughout his career. That’s been particularly frustrating because the dude just isn’t that good. Once capable of sitting in the mid-90’s, the southpaw now averages upper 80’s on both his four-seam and sinker. He’s throwing them less than ever as well, favoring the changeup as his primary offering.

The offspeed pitch is the best in his basket and he’ll deploy it differently based on the handedness of the batter. The tumbling action induces a lot of grounders on less than 68% contact and batters carry just a .161 average against it this season. While some pitchers are afraid to use their change against like-handed batters, González is perfectly comfortable attacking lefties as well.

Righties will get it about a third of the time with relatively even frequency in all counts. The exception is when batters get ahead, in which case González will throw it around 43% of the time. He’ll almost never throw it for a first-pitch or in even counts when facing a lefty batter, but he’ll use it when he gets ahead and to put them away.

González is exactly the kind of pitcher the Cubs have struggled with because he doesn’t have a big fastball and his stuff looks hittable. Well, except when he just doesn’t throw any strikes at all and the Cubs fart around maddeningly against him en route to yet another baffling loss. He only has a 1-0 record against them this season but has given up only three earned runs on 10 hits over four starts.

Yu Darvish is back on the bump after skipping his last start due to forearm tightness, but the Cubs are obviously not as worried about his health as they are his workload. That said, he’ll probably be limited to some extent tonight regardless of how he looks and the best-case scenario is that we end up bitching about Joe Maddon pulling him early.

First pitch is at 6:10pm CT on WGN and 670 The Score.

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