The Cubs are still in first by a game despite laying down an absolute stinker last night, so now it’s time to start a new Wrigley win streak. Joc Pederson gets things started in left, followed by Kris Bryant at third and Anthony Rizzo at first. Javier Báez is at short, Eric Sogard mans second, Ian Happ is in center, Jason Heyward is in right, and José Lobatón is the catcher.
Jake Arrieta has been pretty mediocre this season, sprinkling in a dominant performance every now an again with what have typically been pretty poor starts. He’s allowed four or more hits in each of his last eight starts (35 IP) and has only struck out 25 with 16 walks in that time. The Cubs need the Jake from the Padres series in San Diego and not the one from either of the two previous games or the most recent one against the Mets.
Toeing the rubber for the Fish is 25-year-old Pablo López, who is pitching very well over 14 starts this season. He’s a strike-thrower who has only walked more than two batters once so far and who does a good job of keeping the ball in the yard. Though López gets a fair number of strikeouts and grounders, he’s neither a particularly hard thrower nor a sinker specialist.
In fact, the pitch he throws the most actually grades out as his worst. López opts for the changeup at a 33% clip, more than any qualified pitcher not named Lucas Giolito, yet his offspeed ranks 42nd in overall run value (-1.5) and 35th in weighted value (-0.44). However, throwing it so often means his 94 mph fastball plays up that much more.
The four-seam has been his best weapon this season and he throws it nearly as often as the changeup, as you might imagine. His cutter is actually a better pitch, though it’s only about 12% of the repertoire, then comes a sinker that leaves a bit to be desired and a curve that López seems to be figuring out after having trouble with it the last few seasons.
Because the changeup is such a big part of his mix while serving largely as a decoy, López has mild reverse splits this season. Left-handed hitters tend to make much more contact and walk a little more, but right-handed hitters punish mistakes more thoroughly and are responsible for seven of the eight homers he’s allowed. Also of note, López has been much worse on the road this season.
With a 5.04 ERA away from Miami that has been inflated by an .878 OPS against, the Cubs should see some pitches to hit in this one. Righties are putting up a .965 OPS and .401 wOBA when López is a visitor, so this feels like a nice afternoon for Bryant and Wisdom to make loud noises. Maybe Javy as well.
First pitch from Wrigley is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 19, 2021