If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Cubs have scored 31 runs over the past two games and they’re looking for more today without Anthony Rizzo leading off again. Nicholas Castellanos bats second in right, Kris Bryant bats and plays third, and Kyle Schwarber cleans up in left.
Ben Zobrist bats fifth at second, followed by Victor Caratini behind the plate, Jason Heyward in center, and Nico Hoerner at short. That bottom half would have been unfathomable even a month ago, but Zobrist and Hoerner have provided a spark this team really needed.
The Cubs are facing Trevor Williams, against whom they scored a total of 13 runs on 20 hits in back-to-back starts in July. The big righty hasn’t been much better against other teams, posting a 5.21 ERA with just 6.99 K/9 that comes in part from getting really awful results on his slider.
Williams has a really pedestrian arsenal that starts with a 91 mph fastball he’ll sink on occasion. The slider makes up about 21% of his pitches, with the changeup as his next secondary option, but neither have ever been particularly good. It’s really the fastball that has betrayed him, producing negative value and failing to set anything up for him.
Hitters from both sides have fared well against Williams, but lefties have tagged him for a .946 OPS and .391 wOBA. He’s been a little better against them on the road, but only moderately so. Given the way the Cubs are mashing right now, this has all the markings of a third straight blowout.
José Quintana will be trying to ensure that even a reduced offensive output will be enough to carry him to victory, which means not allowing the Pirates to get going. Q has allowed four earned runs in three of his last four starts and needs to be better in this one even if the Cubs do romp. Finding a groove in this one could really help him moving forward.
First pitch is set for 1:20pm CT on WGN and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 15, 2019