Chicago Cubs Lineup: Rizzo Leads Off, Bote at 3B, Caratini Catching, Quintana on Mound

Update: La Stella has been scratched due to lower back tightness. Bote will move to third and bats sixth, Happ moves to left and bats second, and Albert Almora Jr. takes center and bats ninth.

Jason Heyward has been activated from the DL and is available. Kyle Schwarber was being attended to by team medical personnel in order to determine his ability to travel with the team to Arizona.

Anthony Rizzo maintains his leadoff spot with Tommy La Stella batting second at third base and Ben Zobrist in right field. The slumping Daniel Murphy cleans up at second base, Victor Caratini is catching, Ian Happ is in center, Addison Russell is at short, and David Bote is in left.

Joe Maddon is going lefty-heavy for reasons that will soon become obvious. That means giving Victor Caratini his fourth consecutive start and his third in four games at catcher, which is huge for Willson Contreras when it comes to finally getting some extended rest. Maddon has said that Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward were close to returning, but they’re obviously not ready because this would have been a perfect matchup for both.

Jose Quintana has been nails lately, emerging once again as the pitcher the Cubs had hoped they were getting when they traded for him at the break last season. With only six runs allowed and 25 strikeouts to 10 walks, Quintana has kept the Cubs in every one of his last five starts. Now he just needs to make it six.

He did have a really rough go of it in one of his three previous outings against the Reds this season and they’ve got a difficult lineup despite what the last two games say, so this won’t necessarily be a walk in the park. Look for Quintana to continue a simplified approach that involves a heavier dosage of fastballs and curves with fewer changeups mixed in.

If he’s locating that fastball early and throwing the curve for strikes, he can really settle in and push through at least six innings. That would be huge when it comes to closing out the weekend and keeping the bullpen fresh.

Going for the Reds is 25-year-old righty Luis Castillo, a man with whom the Cubs have grown very familiar over four previous starts. The results show as much, with the NL Central leaders scoring only one run against Castillo in their first bout before scoring three in the next two games and five in the most recent.

Castillo has struck out only 14 Cubs and has walked nine thus far, so Sunday figures to be a game in which bats will be put on balls. Oh, 21 hits allowed in 18 innings pitched says that even louder. Most of the damage Castillo has allowed has come from lefties, and the Cubs are no exception. Hey, maybe this matchup will be enough to shake Murphy from his funk.

When he’s pitching on the road, Castillo gives up a .324/.404/.616 slash with a .429 wOBA to lefties that includes 11 of the 28 home runs he’s surrendered this season. The young pitcher has a big fastball and a hard sinker, both of which sit 96, but his slider and change are his best pitches. Thing is, they don’t play nearly as well to lefties, especially if the fastball isn’t being located properly.

I’ve called for a big offensive breakout for the Cubs in each of the last two games and I’ve been woefully wrong each time. But I’m going back to that well for this one because the matchup just screams it. Also because if I keep making the same prediction, the Broken-Watch Rule dictates that I’ll have to be right eventually.

First pitch is at 1:20pm CT on ABC 7 and 670 The Score.

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