The Cubs have placed Kris Bryant on the DL, so David Bote is back with the team and will be in the lineup today playing second base.
Anthony Rizzo leads off, Albert Almora Jr. is in center, Jason Heyward’s in right, and Willson Contreras is cleaning up behind the plate. Ian Happ is playing third in place of Bryant, which is a little strange with Bote up. Kyle Schwarber is in left, Addison Russell is at short, and Bote is batting ninth.
If there’s any Cubs pitcher you’d choose to salvage a split of a four-game series against a strong opponent, it would be…not Tyler Chatwood. But that’s who’s going in this one, so we’ll just have to hope he can muster the same result he got last time out against the Cardinals. Chatwood managed to work around a half-dozen walks in that one, though he now has more walks than strikeouts on the season.
One bright note in this on is that ol’ Chatty has held Paul Goldschmidt to a .158/.433/.263 slash in 27 previous appearances. That line has a distinctly Chatwoodian feel, though, as Goldy has walked eight times and struck out five. Given the way he’s crushed Cubs pitching on the whole, I think most folks would be fine with just walking him a few more times.
Going for the D-backs will be former Cubs farmhand Zack Godley, a 28-year-old righty who throws a ton of curveballs. The Cubs have struggled with benders at times in the past, though it feels like that’s more of an issue when it’s lefties throwing them. That assessment is not based upon any statistical research, just a feeling I have that may or may not be correct in the least.
Godley uses the curve for over 40 percent of his pitches, going to it more heavily when he’s ahead in the count. He’ll typically start hitters off with the sinker or cutter, keeping all of his pitches down in the zone to get contact on the ground. Here’s the thing, though: Most of his pitches aren’t worth swinging at.
With only 38.1 percent of his offerings finding the zone, Godley is worse than all but six other qualified starters this season. Hence the 4.65 BB/9 mark that’s worse than all but Lucas Giolitio’s 5.27 in that group. For the sake of reference, Chatwood is actually in the zone 38.2 percent of the time and has a 7.96 BB/9 but hasn’t pitched enough to qualify. The Cubs starter just misses by more, apparently.
Cubs hitters need to be patient in this one and try to work Godley’s pitch count up early. With no significance in his platoon splits, everyone in the lineup should be ready to rock in this one. And after three straight anemic performances at the plate, I’m smelling something big from them. Although that might just be last night’s meatball sandwich coming back around.
First pitch is set for 1:20pm CT and can be viewed on NBC Sports Chicago or MLB Network (out of market) or heard on 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 26, 2018