Chicago Cubs Lineup (4/11/21): Happ Leads Off, Sogard at 2B, Williams Returns to Pittsburgh

Ian Happ leads off the rubber match in Pittsburgh, followed by Willson Contreras behind the plate, Anthony Rizzo at first, and Kris Bryant at third. Joc Pederson is in left, Javy Báez is at short, and Jason Heyward is in right. Eric Sogard rounds out the lineup batting eighth.

Trevor Williams spent the first five years of his MLB career with the Pirates and he now pitches in Pittsburgh for the first time as a visitor. His Cubs debut took place in Wrigley, where his father grew up going to games, so this makes two straight emotional outings to open the 2021 season for Williams. That first start was excellent as the righty showcased a sinker that had been a decreasing part of his repertoire in recent years while mixing in a few more curves as well.

The slider was a big focus for Williams this spring, so we may see that more as the season rolls along. As strange as it sounds, the Cubs really need him to play stopper against what was supposed to have been the worst team in baseball this season.

JT Brubaker is on the mound for the Pirates to make his second start of the season, the first of which came against the Reds. It was an abbreviated effort that saw him last just four innings with six strikeouts and four walks, though he only allowed one run on three hits. Brubaker really likes his slider and he’ll throw it a lot, possibly more than any other pitch if his strategy from that first game holds.

He also went more with the four-seam than the sinker in that first one, at least more than he did during his rookie year in 2020. The righty will sit around 94 mph with the hard stuff, bringing that power slider and a firm change at around 88 mph. His curve comes in around 80 mph, but he will only mix that in from time to time.

Lefties have hit Brubaker very well so far, compiling an aggregate .793 OPS with a .350 wOBA in what is still a relatively limited sample. Righties are at just .676 and .289, though they’ve hit four of the six homers he’s allowed despite not having as many total plate appearances. Interestingly enough, lefty batters have three times as many doubles (9) in that same time.

Brubaker doesn’t miss a ton of bats, but he can be dangerous if he gets ahead in the count. His game is more about getting contact on the ground and limiting damage, something that could work out really well for him based on how the Cubs have been performing at the plate lately. Something about this matchup gives me a bad feeling.

First pitch from PNC Park is at 12:05pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.

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