Chicago Cubs Lineup: Heyward in CF, Bryant Batting Fifth, Lester on Mound

You ever have life get in the way of watching a Cubs game and then it turns out you were much better off not bearing witness to them making like that NJ superintendent and dropping a deuce on the field? That was me yesterday. And now that I’m back and don’t have to fly anywhere, I fully expect the Cubs to bounce back.

Daniel Murphy, who looks like he’s remembered how to hit, will be leading off at second base with Ben Zobrist batting second in right. Javy Baez bats third at short, Anthony Rizzo cleans up, and Kris Bryant bats fifth in left. Then it’s Jason Heyward in center, Willson Contreras behind the plate, Kyle Schwarber at DH, and David Bote at third.

Jon Lester is taking the bump riding a solid six-game stretch, though he has alternated starts either zero or three runs allowed in his last four outings. And since the most recent one was a shutout effort, that means he’ll…well, he’ll just have to break the cycle.

Lucas Giolito will be facing the Cubs for a second time this season and he’ll be looking to improve upon a Chatwoodian effort back in May. He walked seven and struck out three in that one, though he somehow held his opponents to only three runs. But he hasn’t walked more than two men in any of his last seven starts, a marked improvement over his early results in general.

What Giolito has done is give up runs, including 14 over his last three starts and 35 in his last 10. And that latter stretch includes three games in which he’s only allowed one run, telling us there’s serious potential for things to get sideways.

Possessed of excellent stuff, the issue for Giolito has long been command. If he’s not missing the zone entirely, he’s finding too much of it. But that also means he can be really good when his pitches are working. His low-90’s fastball and sinker set up his best pitches, the slider and changeup. He’s also got a curveball, though it hasn’t served him very well this season.

Going 6-foot-6 and around two and a half bills, Giolito cuts an imposing figure on the mound. If he can really get that mass behind his pitches and command them, the Cubs could be in for another long one. If, however, his mechanics get a little loose and he falters early, maybe the Cubs can wake from their slumber.

First pitch from Guaranteed Rate is set for 6:10pm CT and will be on NBC Sports Chicago and 670 The Score.

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