Chicago Cubs Lineup: Almora Leads Off, Javy Cleans Up, Hendricks Pitching

Albert Almora Jr. leads off in center, Kris Bryant is in left, Anthony Rizzo is at first, and Javy Baez cleans up at second. Ben Zobrist is in right, Willson Contreras is catching, David Bote is at third, and Addison Russell is batting ninth at short.

Having just one lefty in the lineup seems like the right move against a tough southpaw, though the stats this season might say otherwise. We may get a look at Jason Heyward late as a pinch-hitter/defensive replacement, which will be nice after he’s missed a couple weeks with a hamstring strain.

Kyle Hendricks has a 1.80 ERA with 23 strikeouts and just five walks over his last five starts, two of which have lasted seven innings. His two most recent outings have only lasted five innings, but much of that had to do with matchups and Joe Maddon going to the bullpen early. Given the unease in the relief corps these days, we should see Hendricks go as long as he possibly can.

The Diamondbacks will counter with Patrick Corbin, whose excellent performance this season has gone largely unheralded in light of what Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer have done. The 29-year-old lefty has struck out 230 batters to just 42 walks and he keeps the ball in the yard, so it’s not easy to find a weakness.

Corbin has allowed three homers in his last four games after going 11 starts without a longball, so perhaps the Cubs can indeed leverage a mistake here or there. Not your typical strikeout pitcher, Corbin doesn’t have elite velocity and won’t just blow fastballs past hitters. His four-seam and sinker sit 91 and he doesn’t use many secondaries, but his slider is a ferocious beast.

According to FanGraphs, Corbin’s favorite pitch is more valuable than any of its kind in baseball this year. Much of that comes from throwing over 40 percent of the time, but you know it’s good when hitters are ready for it and they still can’t hit it. Lefties will get a ton of four-seams, righties will get sinkers, both will get the slidepiece.

In a break from expectations, Corbin is actually a reverse-split guy this season. Lefties are hitting him better across the board, though he hasn’t faced nearly as many of them. This doesn’t look like a favorable matchup for a Cubs team that has struggled to put up runs lately, but perhaps that’s exactly why they’ll do well.

We’ll find out whether they can get over on Corbin and the Snakes at 8:40pm CT on WGN and 670 The Score.

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