Willson Contreras remains in the leadoff spot with another lefty on the mound, followed by Kris Bryant in right and Anthony Rizzo at first. Javy Báez has looked much better at the plate over the last month and he’s cleaning up, then it’s Matt Duffy in left and Ian Happ in center. David Bote gets the start at third and Nico Hoerner, who made an incredible play last night, is back at second.
Zach Davies comes into this one riding a streak of two solid starts, the last of which finally got him to more strikeouts than walks on the season. Even better, he made it past the 5th inning twice in a row for the first time in 2021 and pushed his homerless streak to three games. The Cubs will need more than that against a Nationals team that used the big fly last night.
Going for the Nats is veteran lefty Patrick Corbin, who appears to be on the downside of his career’s bell curve. The 31-year-old peaked in 2018 with Arizona and has seen his results trail off along an increasingly steep trend line ever since. While he hasn’t seen big changes in velocity, his command hasn’t been sharp and he’s generating very little weak contact.
Corbin has allowed four or more hits in all seven starts so far and he’s surrendered 10 homers, all to right-handed hitters. He’s also walked 14 batters, though they’ve come in just four of his starts. The real issue for Corbin isn’t that he’s been bad in general but that he’s woefully inconsistent. After game scores of 27 and -17 to open the season, he posted a 71 and then a 21.
He’s coming off of a season-best score of 76 in which he limited the Phillies to one run while striking out nine with no walks in seven innings, though that could simply mean he’s due for a stinker. A fastball/sinker/slider pitcher, Corbin is going to be as good as his breaking ball on a given night. If the slider isn’t working, neither is he.
The four-seam and sinker are important when it comes to getting early strikes and setting everything up, sure, but that slider is going to tell the story. If Corbin’s throwing cement mixers and hanging hittable pitches, the Cubs should be able to jump all over him. As is often the case with southpaws, the Cubs’ right-handed hitters are going to have to come up big.
Bryant, Happ, and Báez all boast OPS marks of well over 1.000 against Corbin and are a combined 13-for-32 (.406) against him over the years. Rizzo has also done a little damage with a homer and a pair of walks. Padding those stats and giving Davies an early cushion sure would be nice.
First pitch from Wrigley is again set for 6:40pm CT and can be seen on Marquee Sports Network or heard on 670 The Score. Cord-cutters can check out a free preview of fuboTV if you still want to catch the games without a cable commitment.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 18, 2021