Chicago Cubs Lineup (9/11/20): Hoerner at SS, Bote Plays 2B, Lester Seeks to Regain Confidence

The Cubs are done playing the Reds and Cardinals, now come their final three games of the season against the Brewers. Dropping three of four at Wrigley put the Cubs at 3-4 against their foes to the north, so they’ll be looking to exact a little revenge in their home away from home.

Ian Happ leads off in center, followed by Kris Bryant at third and Anthony Rizzo at first. Javy Báez is not cleaning up in this one because he’s getting the day off, so the white-hot Willson Contreras takes over that spot. Kyle Schwarber is in left, David Bote is at second, and Jason Heyward is in right. Then it’s Victor Caratini at the DH and Nico Hoerner at short.

Jon Lester is coming off of back-to-back games with five runs allowed and he’s actually given up five or more in four of his last five starts. The first of those came against these Brewers on August 16, when the lefty gave up a pair of homers among nine hits. Since that start, he’s got a 9.26 ERA with eight homers allowed over 23.1 innings.

He’s been too good for too long to declare him officially done, but David Ross needs to have a short leash in this one if things look like they’re getting sideways. The bullpen has been performing really well lately and the Cubs are off this coming Monday and Thursday, so they could even piggyback someone if Lester falters early.

This isn’t just a matter of fans getting antsy, either. Lester himself openly admitted after his last start that his confidence has gone missing. It sure would be nice to see him find his way out of his funk as the Cubs start the final quarter of the season.

Facing the Cubs for the third time this season is 27-year-old righty Brandon Woodruff, a very solid and entirely unspectacular pitcher. He’s capable of big strikeout numbers, but doesn’t work very efficiently and isn’t likely to go deep in this one. You may recall that he and Alec Mills were perfect through three-plus innings back on August 14 before the wheels eventually came off for both.

Mills gave up a big homer to Christian Yelich, but Woodruff completely imploded by allowing six consecutive Cubs to reach via either single or walk before he was lifted. He’s walked three in each of his last two starts, so the Cubs’ patient approach could give him fits in this one.

Righties actually hit Woodruff more often, but lefties slug better and thus make the overall splits pretty even. He’ll use his 97 mph fastball and sinker to set up a slider that is capable of getting swinging strikes, but his curveball and change have betrayed him for the most part this year. He may have lost a little faith in the slider lately as well, judging from its decreased usage, though a matchup with the Cubs should be enough to have him throwing it more frequently.

First pitch from Wrigley North is set for 7:10pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.

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