Chicago Cubs Lineup (5/11/21): Pederson Leads Off, Bryant in CF, Alzolay Starting in Cleveland

Joc Pederson has recorded three hits twice in the last three games and his batting average is finally back over .200, so the Cubs are hoping his hot hitting continues in the leadoff spot tonight. Kris Bryant bats second in center, Javy Báez is at short, Anthony Rizzo is at first, and Willson Contreras is catching. Matt Duffy handles third base, Jason Heyward is in right, David Bote is the DH, and Eric Sogard is at second.

It may seem as though Adbert Alzolay has been getting better with each start, but it’s really more a matter of being very consistent. He’s struck out either six or seven in each of his last four outings and his FanGraphs game scores have remained between 55 and 59 in each. He actually hit 59 twice before dropping to 58 and 55 in his two most recent efforts. The Cubs will gladly take another similar game as they face a Cleveland team that has largely failed to support its ace.

Reigning Cy Young winner Shane Bieber isn’t on quite the same pace as last year when it comes to limiting runs, though he’s striking out plenty of batters. You may want to bet the over on 9.5 K’s in this one, as Bieber is averaging 14.34 K/9 and notched at least nine in all seven starts this season. His 19.1% swinging-strike rate is second only to Jacob deGrom (21.6) and his 35.9% combo of swinging and called strikes is best in MLB.

If Bieber has a weakness, it’s that his control isn’t quite as good as last year and he’s prone to walking batters from time to time. A lot of that has to do with a nasty slider and curve that can bend themselves out of the zone when hitters are able to spit on them. The fastball, however, is down a tick from last year and is actually producing negative value so far.

The righty is definitely harder on right-handed hitters, though lefties strike out more and the aggregate results are about the same for hitters on either side. There’s not much else to say about this matchup, especially since the Cubs have a combined 10 at-bats, all from Duffy and Sogard, against Bieber. This is one of those games in which you basically have to hope the opposing pitcher isn’t at his best.

As the Cubs saw during that Dodgers series, though, that’s absolutely a possibility. Even if they don’t chase Bieber after an inning like they did to Clayton Kershaw, it’s entirely likely that Cleveland fails to provide any run support.

First pitch is set for 5:10pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score. Those of you who are in-market and looking for a way to stream Marquee via something other than a cable or satellite provider can sign up for a free trial of fuboTV.

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