Chicago Cubs Lineup (4/27/21): Hoerner Leads Off, Happ Bats 8th, Williams Pitching

This looks like a meatloaf lineup if ever there was one, but the Cubs are playing four games against the Braves and they already lost the first one. Nico Hoerner leads off at short, followed by Willson Contreras at catcher and David Bote at second. Anthony Rizzo is at first, Matt Duffy is at third, Jason Heyward is in right, Jake Marisnick is in center, and Ian Happ bats eighth in left.

Javy Báez is absent from the lineup yet again and Kris Bryant is also out, though the latter might just be a matter of getting a day off after several outfield starts. Or maybe David Ross wants to see if Contreras can carry the lineup all by himself. The truth is that Bryant’s right bicep has been barking at him and Ross wanted to give it a rest.

Trevor Williams bounced back nicely from his hiccup in Pittsburgh, authoring two excellent starts in which he allowed just three total runs over 10 innings. One of those was against the Braves 10 days ago, so perhaps he can repeat that effort. You’d really like to see the righty get through more than five innings in the process, but he’s yet to face more than 23 batters in a game this season and probably shouldn’t be counted on for a deep run tonight.

Going for the Braves is 22-year-old righty Ian Anderson, a big-time changeup pitcher who relies heavily on his offspeed and breaking stuff. Anderson loves to work his mid-90’s four-seam up in the zone before going to his secondaries for strikeouts and grounders.

Having both a change and curve means he’s typically been tough on hitters from both sides of the plate, though he’s been shelled by lefties so far this season. The 31 left-handed batters Anderson has faced are batting .357 with a 1.040 OPS, with most of the damage coming against the fastball. Righties have walked nine times, so they do at least seem to be seeing the ball well in spite of an aggregate .170 average and .535 OPS.

Anderson has walked four batters in each of his last two starts and he’s surrendered at least that many hits in every start this season, so it’s a simple matter of cashing in on those baserunners. The tough part is that his 52.6% grounder rate means the potential for a lot of double plays and quick innings.

We’ve seen the Cubs have success when they jump on early strikes, something Bryant has done exceptionally well, but this is one of those games that might require a more patient approach. It might also require not getting down 4-0 after the first inning.

First pitch from Truist Park is at 6:20pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.

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