The Cubs need this one to secure a series win against the worst team in baseball, which feels gross to write. Gary Varsho’s kid has flat-out killed them so far, which feels weird to write.
Willson Contreras will catch and lead off this afternoon, followed by Kris Bryant in right and Anthony Rizzo at first. Javy Báez is at short, Patrick Wisdom is in left, and Jake Marisnick handles center. David Bote has been activated from the IL and gets the start at third, then it’s Nico Hoerner batting eighth at second.
Trevor Williams got a no-decision in his most recent start against the Cardinals after allowing four earned runs on seven hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked one, not a bad overall performance for his first start in nearly two months.
Lefty Caleb Smith didn’t face the Cubs last week in Arizona, so this is the first they’re seeing of him this season. The 29-year-old has been decent this season in a hybrid role, making 28 total appearances, but his overall numbers are made much better by his performance in 18 relief outings. He’s got a 5.20 ERA over his last nine starts and has been prone to walking multiple batters.
Smith is mainly a fastball/sided pitcher, going with his 92 mph four-seam about 50% of the time and the breaking ball for over a quarter of his offerings. His curve and change make up the rest, but neither is very strong. Despite the lack of big-time stuff, Smith has managed to strike out better than one batter per inning.
He’s also pitched to mild reverse splits, with lefties really pounding him when he’s on the road. A lot of that may be the small sample, so we’ll see whether it plays out this afternoon.
First pitch is set for 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 25, 2021