Chicago Cubs Lineup (4/23/22): Ortega Leads Off, Rivas at 1B, Hendricks Pitching

The Cubs have looked listless for three games now, playing a sleepy brand of baseball that makes it look as if they joined Bobby Dernier for a few afternoon beverages before the games. That’ll happen at times to even the best teams, but it’s doubly frustrating when they’re being outplayed by a Pirates team that doesn’t seem to be all that intent on winning right now.

I want to make clear there that I’m not talking about the players when I say that, as I’m sure every single one of them is trying to win every game. It’s just that what the guys on the field want doesn’t always match the machinations of those in the owner’s box. Try as they might, the Cubs can’t sell tickets on the forecast alone, so they’d better hope for some more competitive games here soon.

That starts with Kyle Hendricks who is on the bump for the fourth time as he looks to avoid a fate like the one he suffered two starts ago in Pittsburgh. Hendricks didn’t have anything working in that game as he walked four batters and allowed seven hits over just 3.2 innings. The lack of command was troubling, but perhaps more favorable weather will help him find his happy place again.

Rafael Ortega is back in the leadoff spot as the DH, followed by Seiya Suzuki in right, Willson Contreras behind the plate, and Ian Happ in left. Patrick Wisdom is at the hot corner, Jonathan Villar plays second, and Jason Heyward is in center. Alfonso Rivas gets the start at first and Nico Hoerner rounds out the lineup at short.

Righty Zach Thompson opposed Hendricks in that aforementioned start and looked decent over four innings of work that saw him surrender two runs on five hits and a walk. He was decidedly less effective five days later at Milwaukee, however, giving up six earned on as many hits with five walks.

Typically not a big strikeout guy, Thompson will give up his share of contact and has been prone to homers early on this year. Contreras took him deep in that last game and I’ve got a feeling we’ll see at least one dinger from the Cubs against today’s starter.

Thompson loves his cutter and may throw it about 30% of the time, a little more than the other offerings in what is a pretty balanced repertoire. His four-seam sits around 93 and has worked well for him so far, but his sinker doesn’t do a very good job of getting grounders or whiffs. The changeup he tosses about 20% of the time hasn’t really fooled hitters either, though the curve has been an effective pitch for him.

The Cubs should be able to get something going in this one, though we said the same thing about last night. Here’s to hoping the perfect weather isn’t the only thing to enjoy at Wrigley this afternoon. First pitch is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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