Chicago Cubs Lineup: Murphy Leads Off, Javy at SS, Schwarber at DH, Q Returns to GRate

Daniel Murphy leads off the Cubs in this afternoon’s series opener on the South Side. He’s followed by Kris Bryant at third and Anthony Rizzo at first, with Javy Baez cleaning up at short. Ben Zobrist is in left, Victor Caratini is catching, and Jason Heyward is in right. Kyle Schwarber returns to DH and Albert Almora Jr. is in center to round things out.

Jose Quintana hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last six starts, giving up a combined eight tallies in that stretch. And he’s pitching on the South Side for the first time since being traded to the Cubs last July, so he’s got a little extra motivation to keep the solid performance going. Emotion can be a tricky horse to saddle up and ride, though, so here’s to hoping he’s an able cowboy.

Going for the Sox will be hard-throwing 24-year-old righty Reynaldo Lopez, who’s riding quite a heater of his own lately. Lopez has allowed only four runs in his last five starts and hasn’t been scored against in his last 13 innings of work. The slider has been his best weapon all season, but the fastball and changeup have fueled the recent success.

Lopez can hit close to triple digits regularly and sits 96 mph with the four-seam, so the changeup coming in at 83-84 makes hitters look silly when it’s on. The slider is also around 84, with a curve in the mid-70’s, again giving some serious velo differences for hitters to adjust to.

Righties have posted a batting average that’s about 40 points higher than their lefty counterparts when facing Lopez, but a wOBA gap of only 17 points reveals that he’s nearly split-neutral. But a lot of that comes from him being more hittable on the road. When Lopez is on the G-Rate mound, lefties have just a .633 OPS and .274 wOBA vs. .764 and .325 for righties.

The Cubs may want to get to the youngster early, since he actually gets better as the game goes along. His .267 wOBA allowed the third time through the order is much lower than either the first (.310) or second (.344) times. Here’s to hoping that big red arrow is pointing down for him in this one.

First pitch is at 3:10pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago and 670 The Score.

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