Apologies for the truncated breakdown in this one, but our site was down for several hours and only just came back up right before the lineup dropped. Let’s hope it doesn’t matter and the Cubs jump all over the Pirates right out of the gate in this rare weekday matinee.
Ian Happ leads off in center, followed by Kris Bryant at third, Anthony Rizzo at first, and Javy Báez at short. Then it’s Kyle Schwarber in left, Willson Contreras catching, Jason Heyward in right, and Victor Caratini at DH. Jason Kipnis bats ninth at second base.
Alec Mills got off to a hot start, but he’s cooled quite a bit over his last four starts and has been plagued by mistakes that end up several rows deep in the outfield. He’s allowed 17 earned runs over his last 19.2 innings (7.78 ERA), with six homers out of 23 total hits and 17 strikeouts against five walks.
The good news is that he seems to alternate good-bad and bad-bad starts, with today setting up as the former. He doesn’t need to be an ace in this one with the way the Cubs have been hitting lately, but a big game sure would be nice.
On the hill for the home team is 26-year-old rookie righty JT Brubaker, who’s making his first start against the Cubs after facing them in relief early in the season. He’s been easing into longer outings, working up to five innings in his last start, so it’s possible he’ll be able to get a little deeper into this one.
A big sinker/slider pitcher, Brubaker will run it up there around 95 mph in order to set up his breaking stuff and other secondaries. The sinker and four-seam haven’t been very effective, but the slider, curve and change all have positive value. It all comes down to the slider, though, since he throws that pitch over a third of the time.
Despite pretty big strikeout numbers (9.90 K/9), Brubaker doesn’t actually get a lot of swinging strikes. That tells me he likes to get ahead in the count with his hard stuff before using the junk to get whiffs, which means the Cubs should be able to get to him early if they’re sitting fastball.
First pitch is set for 12:35pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 3, 2020