The Cubs have a chance to win their first series since the trade deadline, which means little to anyone outside the clubhouse.
Rafael Ortega leads off, once again, playing center, Willson Contreras bats second catching, followed by Ian Happ in right, Patrick Wisdom at third, and David Bote at second. Frank Schwindel hits sixth playing first, Johneshwy Fargas is in left, followed by Sergio Alcántara at short.
Jake Arrieta is on the bump for the second time since coming off the IL for a balky hamstring and bruised ego, and his recent history doesn’t speak kindly about his chances in this one. Arrieta isn’t missing bats and he’s giving up tons of hard contact, including at least four hits and one homer in each of his last six starts. He has struck out 21 batters over 20.1 innings in that time, but has failed to reach the 4th inning in three of those games.
Going for the Rockies is 26-year-old righty Antonio Senzatela, who has done a really good job of keeping the ball in the yard despite giving up a tremendous number of hits. He has allowed 111 hits over just 94.1 innings, a rate of 1.17 per inning. For the sake of reference, Kyle Hendricks has allowed an MLB-high 138 hits in 128.2 innings (1.07 H/IP).
Senzatela is a big-time strike-thrower who has walked multiple batters only twice in his last 10 starts, so the Cubs need to be prepared to break out their bats like they did last night. That might mean racking up a bunch of singles again, as Senzatela has surrendered just nine home runs despite calling Coors Field home.
He does that with a fastball/slider combo that accounts for 87% of his pitches, rounding things out with a change and curve. His 95 mph fastball gets the most work at around 56% and the slide-piece is at 31%, though that breaking ball has been pretty awful and tends to back up on him pretty frequently. It’s got enough movement to keep the ball in the yard, but not enough to miss many bats.
To wit, Senzatela’s 6.20 K/9 mark is the fourth-lowest among 90 pitchers with at least 90 innings logged this season. Zach Davies is next at 6.31, in case you were wondering. It’s really odd that this guy shows up near two soft-tossers in some respects, though nothing else about the way Senzatela pitches is similar to either Hendricks or Davies.
The Cubs will reach base tonight, it’s just a matter of whether someone other than Wisdom can actually step up to drive those runners in. First pitch is at 2:10pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 5, 2021