Chicago Cubs Lineup (8/17/21): Ortega Leads Off, Romines Back-to-Back, Hendricks Pitching

Congratulations for still being interested enough in this team to be here checking out the lineup and pitching matchup notes. It was a lot more fun to break these down when the Cubs were winning, but I’ll try to provide some decent info here nonetheless.

Rafael Ortega leads off in center, a role he’s had as long as the Cubs aren’t facing a lefty, followed by Frank Schwindel at first and Ian Happ in left. Patrick Wisdom is at third, Jason Heyward is in right, and David Bote is at second. Austin Romine is behind the plate ahead of older brother Andrew Romine at short.

Kyle Hendricks took a loss in his last start, the first time that had happened in over three months, but he has not had a decision in two previous starts against the Reds this year. Those outings were very different, as one saw him allow a single run over six innings and the other saw him surrender five runs on nine hits over 4.1 innings. Hendricks has allowed 156 hits this season, more than anyone else in baseball, so limiting walks and homers is imperative.

Starting for the Reds is Vladimir Gutiérrez, a 25-year-old righty with a spider tattoo on his throat that could have the Cubs feeling arachnophobia. They may as well have Jeff Daniels in the lineup after managing three runs on seven hits in two previous meetings against the Cuban. Their lone run in that first one came on a David Bote homer that powered a win, but they were losers the last time out.

After taking some time to find his footing, Gutiérrez has won four straight starts by allowing a total of five runs over 25.1 innings. He’s probably going to walk some batters and he isn’t necessarily a big strikeout guy, but he keeps figuring out ways to win.

Gutiérrez has a 93 mph fastball that he’ll throw about 47% of the time with pretty poor overall results. His breaking balls are both subpar and account for another 42% of his pitches, but the key to his recent success is the changeup. He really struggled with that pitch at times through early July and has since seen it become a serious weapon.

That has allowed the righty to limit left-handed hitters to a .318 wOBA that is more than 20 points lower than right-handed hitters have produced against him. The splits get really pronounced at Great American Ball Park, though, as righty batters how a .408 average with a 1.280 OPS and .523 wOBA while lefties are actually a little worse than their overall average.

Feels like there’s potential for the Cubs to do something big tonight. Right? Is anyone out there?

First pitch is set for 6:10pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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