Chicago Cubs Lineup (4/4/19): Almora Leads Off, Schwarber Faces LHP, Darvish Seeking Redemption
Albert Almora Jr. is leading off in center with a lefty on the mound, Kris Bryant is at third, and Anthony Rizzo is at first. Jávy Baez bats cleanup and plays short, Willson Contreras is catching, and the newly-extended David Bote is at second.
The first really notable change in the lineup comes as Kyle Schwarber actually gets a chance to face a lefty. This matchup isn’t quite as good for him as in the series opener against Sean Newcomb, but it works just fine. In another change from the norm, Mark Zagunis will bat ninth in right in place of Jason Heyward.
Max Fried sounds like a gluttonous appetizer sampler or your patience after watching the Cubs these last few days, but he’s actually a real person who’ll be starting for the Braves. The 25-year-old lefty is making just his 10th career start and first this season after two relief appearances. Fried isn’t really stretched out, so don’t expect him to go deep in this one.
His lone career appearance against the Cubs back on September 3, 2017 was actually his first career start, during which he got the win by holding the Cubs to one run on four hits. That run came on a homer by Ian Happ, so I guess we can rule out history repeating itself on that front.
Basically a split-neutral pitcher to this point in his career, there doesn’t appear to be any real platoon advantage to be gained by batter handedness against Fried. Lefties do actually walk a little more frequently, but they also strike out a lot more, so it balances out. And after perhaps getting too cute against Newcomb earlier in the week, Maddon has chosen to keep Schwarber in this time.
Yu Darvish is going for the second time after a disastrous homecoming last weekend that saw him lose control after striking out the first two batters. The righty appeared rattled at times and was unable to maintain a consistent pace, though some of that could have been due to the situation. His stuff was still good, though, and the Cubs could really use a strong outing from Darvish in the series finale.
First pitch from SunTrust Park is at 6:20pm CT and can be seen on NBC Sports Chicago or MLB Network, the latter of which is available to those outside the Cubs’ territory. As always, 670 The Score has the radio call.
Here is tonight's #Cubs starting lineup. #EverybodyIn
Stream on @NBCSChicago: https://t.co/rGCuW1XI7C pic.twitter.com/MVjGJHsvqI
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 4, 2019