Joe Maddon told Laurence Holmes on 670 The Score Tuesday afternoon that Kris Bryant would be out for this one, perhaps hinting at a Wednesday return. Kyle Schwarber again leads off in left, followed by Javy Báez at DH and Anthony Rizzo at first.
Willson Contreras catches and cleans up, Albert Almora Jr. patrols center, Jason Heyward is in right, and Addison Russell plays short. Daniel Descalso handles second base and David Bote rounds things out at third.
They’ll be squaring off against 23-year-old righty Corbin Martin, who’s making just his fourth MLB start. The righty debuted with a bang, striking out nine Rangers and walking only one over 5.1 innings back on May 12, but has cooled significantly since then. With only three strikeouts and five walks over his last two starts against both colors of Sox, he hasn’t exactly been scary out there on the mound.
But hey, maybe the Cubs can help him out when it comes to padding those strikeout numbers. Martin has a big fastball that sits 96 mph and he throws it a lot. Like, two-thirds of the time. Martin will throw the four-seam over 80% of the time when he falls behind, so the Cubs may as well just sit dead red in those situations.
There should be plenty of opportunities, too, since his control hasn’t been great. Whether because of location of sequence, Martin’s stuff hasn’t been enough to get many swinging strikes. Hitters have made a lot of contact against him thus far, including one homer in each of his starts to this point.
All of those have come from right-handed batters, who have an 1.157 OPS and .471 wOBA against Martin at this early juncture. That high watcher is certain to recede quite a bit in time, though his numbers in the minors show that righties have hit him a little betters than lefties overall.
The Cubs jumped out to an early lead on a Rizzo homer yesterday, then nearly came back on the strength of the longball late. There’s no reason they can’t do more of the same tonight, though it’d be a lot cooler if they just forgot about the comeback part and pounced on Martin for some big hits early and often.
That would be a huge boon to Jon Lester, who’s not looked like himself over the last two starts. None of his pitches have been particularly sharp, but the fastball and cutter have been tagged all too often. The curve was being knocked around pretty good in that last one as well. Lester’s a great pitcher who knows how to work the zone, but he can’t easily get away with missing his spots these days.
It’ll be imperative that he find a groove early in this one since the Astros’ righty-heavy lineup has already shown what they can do to a sloppy southpaw.
First pitch from Houston is set for 7:10pm CT and can be seen on ABC-7 or heard on 670 The Score.
Here is tonight's #Cubs starting lineup.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 28, 2019