Chicago Cubs Lineup (5/3/21): Pederson Leads Off, Bryant in CF, Hendricks Set to Start Soggy Affair

Monday’s game has been postponed due to inclement weather and will be made up Tuesday as part of a split doubleheader. The makeup game is scheduled for 1:20pm CT with the second game scheduled to start at 6:40pm.

There is plenty of doubt about the ability to start this one or get it finished, so keep an eye on those weather reports. Joc Pederson is leading off in left against his old team in his return from the IL, followed by NL Player of the Week Kris Bryant in center, Javy Báez at short, and Anthony Rizzo is at first. Willson Contreras is catching, Jason Heyward is in right, David Bote is at second, and Matt Duffy is third.

Kyle Hendricks has not pitched well this season as he fails to locate his pitches well, resulting in frequent hard contact. He’s already given up as many homers and walked as many batters as he did last season in nearly four times as many innings, but maybe that just means he’s due for a great stretch of starts.

Dodgers starter Walker Buehler may end up getting the day off due to inclement weather, which might be good news for the Cubs. Not that the other options are more appealing. Buehler has long displayed excellent control and he’s off to a tremendous start to the season with just two walks in 31.1 innings. He loves to attack with first-pitch strikes and he works in the zone more than most pitchers.

Buehler’s fastball velocity is down a little this season, though he still sits around 96 mph, but he’s throwing his hard stuff less than ever. That’s due almost exclusively to a drop in his sinker usage, with most of the surplus being allocated to his curveball. Though probably not a direct correlation, there may be something in Buehler’s sequencing that led to the change.

After grading out as one of his worst pitches last season, the sinker is one of his best this year. The curve, however, remains a work in progress and hasn’t served as much of a weapon against left-handed batters. In fact, lefties are batting .294 with an .862 OPS and .371 wOBA so far this season. Righties are hitting just .194 with a .463 OPS and .200 wOBA, so they clearly aren’t seeing the ball well.

That should start to even out a bit soon because Buehler has historically pitched to almost even splits, so perhaps the Cubs can get over on him if they get this game in. This group of hitters has actually done really well against the Dodgers righty in the past, though most of that experience came two or more years ago. Given his propensity for throwing strikes, this could be a good matchup for Bryant and others to go up there hunting fastballs.

To wit, Buehler has given up a homer in four of five starts and has allowed at least four hits in each start. Weather permitting, first pitch is set for 6:40pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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