Jon Jay leading off is a real thing. Joe Maddon will keep riding it while it works, slotting Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Willson Contreras after.
Kyle Schwarber bats fifth, while Ian Happ returns to hit sixth and play second. Jason Heyward and Javy Baez round out the order.
Jon Lester has been fantastic here in the second half, earning wins in his first three starts since allowing 10 runs in two-thirds of an inning to close the first half against Pirates. His most recent start was a weird one, though, as Lester hit his first home run and notched his 2,000th strikeout, but ran up a high pitch could and couldn’t make it through the 5th inning for the win.
Most of the hitters on the Nats’ roster don’t have much experience against the veteran southpaw, and those who do haven’t fared too well. Howie Kendrick has a .628 OPS in 33 plate appearances, Adam Lind has a .271 OPS in 30 PA’s, and Ryan Raburn has a .377 OPS after facing Lester 18 times. Matt Wieters is the exception, posting an .806 OPS with three doubles and a triple across 53 PA’s.
Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy both hit righties better, but that’s a relative term for a couple of excellent hitters who can rake against anyone. It goes without saying, but holding those two down will be a huge key in today’s game. An even bigger key will be limiting walks. Lester is 5-2 over the last eight starts in which he walks two or fewer, but he’s 0-2 in the last five contests in which he’s walked three or more.
Erick Fedde was called up to fill out a rotation that has been decimated by injuries and paternity leave, so this could be one of those trap games if the Cubs don’t take him seriously in light of his youth and inglorious first start. The rookie will be looking to allow fewer than the seven runs he surrendered to the Rockies a week ago as he makes his first appearance on the road.
The 18th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Fedde is a 6-foot-4, 180-pound righty who was rated as Washington’s third-best prospect heading into this season by FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen (perhaps some name bias?), but did not find himself among said writer’s top 100 overall prospects.
Here’s some of what Longenhagen wrote about the rangy righty:
Fedde’s fastball mostly sits 90-94 and will touch 96 with a bit of sink and run. He consistently commands the fastball to both sides of the plate and works down, inducing a high rate of ground balls. Fedde’s out pitch is a slider, mostly 81-84 mph, that flashes plus but can get slurvy and lose bite when Fedde doesn’t get on top of it. His arm slot can get slingy and low, making it hard for him to drive the ball down.
Doesn’t sounds like the kind of profile that should scare the Cubs, particularly not when they’re hitting the ball as well as they have been lately. And if Fedde does get a little gassed or just drops down and starts throwing from a lower slot, this could be a fun one for the fans at Wrigley.
First pitch is set for 1:20 CT and will be shown on CSN Chicago.
Here is today's #Cubs lineup for the rubber game vs. the Nats.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 6, 2017