Chicago Cubs Lineup: Zo Leads Off, Javy Cleans Up, Chatwood Tries to Correct Command

Ben Zobrist leads off, Bryzzo handles the corner duties, Javy Baez cleans up at second base, and Kyle Schwarber is in left field.

Willson Contreras is catching, Addison Russell is at short, and Ian Happ will try to justify Joe Maddon’s continued faith in him.

Tyler Chatwood has been maddeningly inconsistent, but he and the Cubs think they know what his mechanical flaws are and how to fix them. I’ve noticed a few things as well, though my observations are less about a specific issue as they are an acknowledgement of overall inconsistency with his release point. He’s also coming from a lower release point in general, which could be affecting how he’s commanding his pitches.

The righty has walked at least three batters in five of his six starts and he’s walked five or more on four occasions. And in the one outing in which he walked only one batter, he left his fastball center-cut and hit all day and was absolutely bombed. The good news is that Chatwood is facing a White Sox team that has the lowest walk rate (7.3%) in baseball.

Speaking of walks, Carson Fulmer and his 4.71 BB/9 will be on the bump for the Sox. And while that doesn’t come close to Chatwood-level wildness, Fulmer isn’t as big a strikeout pitcher and has given up a lot more hard contact than his counterpart.

An extreme fly ball pitcher, Fulmer gets fewer grounders than all but 10 pitchers in baseball (min. 20 IP) and more flies than all but 11 men. That has let to him giving up seven homers on the season, though only one of those has been a multi-run shot. Which, how is that even possible with all those free passes? Baseball, amirite?

Fulmer doesn’t have a very wide repertoire, going with his 94 mph fastball and 89 mph cutter for nearly 80 percent of his pitches. He’ll mix in a change and curve from time to time as well, but the former has been pretty terrible for him this season. The cutter has been awful as well and ranks among the seven worst in MLB by weighted value.

The big problem seems to be leaving the ball over the plate, or at least that’s what I’ve gathered from scouting the numbers and the heat maps. While Fulmer has generally kept the ball down in the zone, his four-seam, cutter, and change basically live just below the zone. That makes him both very hittable and very takeable, which would explain the results he’s getting.

One thing working against the Cubs in this one is that Fulmer has been much better on the road and has really stifled righties when pitching away from the Rate. That comes from a very small sample, though, so maybe the Cubs can add a few points to that .167/.265/.267 slash. It makes sense that they could, since the 24-year-old righty has pitched to a reverse split over the course of his short career.

First pitch is set for 1:20pm CT as long as the rain holds off and you can catch the Cubs broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago. WGN will be carrying the Sox version of the game, with MLB Network taking care of those folks who are outside the very broad region of the Midwest considered local to both teams. Fun!

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