Chicago Cubs Lineup: Murphy at DH, Schwarber in LF, Hendricks Lectures

Daniel Murphy is leading off as the DH, followed by Ben Zobrist at second and Javy Baez at short. Anthony Rizzo cleans up, Albert Almora Jr. is in center, David Bote is at third, and Willson Contreras catches.

Kyle Schwarber is in left with Ian Happ in right to finish out the order.

Kyle Hendricks nearly pitched a complete game his last time out, coming up one pitch shy of finishing off the Diamondbacks all by himself. His changeup was working to perfection and he was locating the fastball to great effect, something you could see right from the start. Let’s hope for more of the same this afternoon.

Going for the Men in Black will be Carlos Rodon, the man chosen immediately ahead of Kyle Schwarber in the 2014 draft. After taking a while to really find his groove, Rodon had been settling into a potential staff ace role as the season. He may have gassed out a little bit though.

Coming off of a stretch in which he allowed only six earned runs over six starts, Rodon has given up 21 earned over his last seven starts. That 4.20 ERA over 45 innings still isn’t very high, but the burly lefty has allowed six homers and has walked 23 against 27 strikeouts in that time. His overall 3.91 BB/9 mark is in keeping with his career numbers, but that 6.52 K/9 is waaaaay low.

That’s part of the reason his 4.81 FIP and 5.31 xFIP are telling on his 3.22 ERA. Rodon’s fastball has lost just a little velocity, but his inability to command it consistently means his nasty slider isn’t quite as effective. He can still get swings and misses with the breaking pitch, it’s just that there aren’t nearly as many opportunities for strikeouts this season.

Rodon has actually posted slightly reverse splits this season, allowing a .313 wOBA to lefties and only .280 to righties. His pitch usage is almost the same to batters from both sides, with righties seeing his little-used changeup slightly more often and lefties just a few more sliders. If that slider flattens out, the Cubs are going to have to jump on it.

With the magic number at six and only eight games remaining, the Cubs are in complete control of their own destiny. A win this afternoon would push them that much closer and would give them a confidence boost after a pair of stinkers. First pitch from G-Rate is at 1:10pm CT on ABC 7 and 670 The Score.

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