Chicago Cubs Lineup (4/5/21): Happ Leads Off in LF, Bryant in RF, Williams Makes Cubs Debut
Ian Happ leads off in left field tonight, followed by Willson Contreras behind the plate and Kris Bryant in right. This configuration means Joc Pederson is getting the day off after a rough opening series and with a lefty on the mound. Anthony Rizzo cleans up at first base and Javy Báez is at short.
David Bote bats sixth at second base, Jake Marisnick is in center, and Matt Duffy rounds things out at third base. This is definitely not a lineup anyone would have projected even two weeks ago, but it actually looks pretty solid based on recent performance.
Just like Zach Davies Sunday afternoon, Trevor Williams is already quite familiar with Wrigley Field despite having never pitched there for the home team. In fact, Williams’ father grew up a Cubs fan and even worked at the ballpark as an usher in his younger days. This should be a really proud moment for the whole family, so it’s even more special for them that fans are being allowed this season.
Williams looked good in spring training and has the potential to continue getting better as he gets more comfortable with his “new” sliders. The right was tinkering with grips in an effort to get more horizontal run in addition to what has typically been more drop. Sequencing will be a big key, as we pointed out when he first signed with the Cubs, and how he mixes pitches may be as important as where he locates.
Old friend Brett Anderson will be on the mound for the Brewers in this one and he’ll be looking to frustrate his former team with a heavy dose of sinkers. Anderson doesn’t miss many bats, but he’s a big-time strike-thrower who generates grounders at a nearly 60% clip. That’s how you find success as a southpaw who sits around 90 mph with the hard stuff.
Anderson also mixes in a slider, cutter, and curve for good measure, even zipping a four-seam on rare occasion, so he’s not the easiest pitcher in the world to guess on. As you might imagine, his stuff is such that he doesn’t have very defined splits. In fact, lefties have traditionally done just a little bit better against him even though righties slug slightly better.
That last bit might have you thinking it’d be better for Pederson to be in there, but a southpaw sinker-baller probably isn’t the best opponent against whom to get off the schneid. David Ross said he would keep Pederson in as the everyday option in left unless the Cubs get to the break with him batting .150, so this is just a very minor reset to prevent a more serious skid.
This one has the earmarks of a game in which Cubs fans will be pulling their hair out and screaming at their team’s inability to get anything going against yet another soft-tosser. Anderson doesn’t walk many batters and that propensity for grounders can lead to a lot of double plays. It’d be nice to see Ross getting aggressive with baserunning in this one to keep those twin-killings off the board.
The first night game of the season is an early start at 6:40pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.
Here is tonight's #Cubs starting lineup!#CubTogether pic.twitter.com/06GKHGotSx
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 5, 2021