Chicago Cubs Lineup (8/6/21): Ortega Leads Off, Schwindel at 1B, Deichmann RF, Hendricks Pitching

This is a spring training lineup if ever I’ve seen one, with just one starter from early in the season included here today. Rafael Ortega is leading off in center, followed by Matt Duffy at third and Ian Happ in left. Frank Schwindel is at first, Greg Deichmann is making his MLB debut in right, and Andrew Romine is at short. Robinson Chirinos is behind the plate and Sergio Alcántara bats eighth at second.

Kyle Hendricks hasn’t lost a game since May, which is pretty incredible even without considering how bad the Cubs have been over most of that stretch. He’ll have to be on point today against a Sox team that can mash and that is sending a great pitcher to the mound.

Lance Lynn takes the mound at Wrigley sporting a 2.07 ERA that is best in MLB among pitchers with at least 100 innings. He’s also striking out batters at a 27.6% clip, the second-highest of his career, and he’s been very stingy with homers despite a mere 36.2% groundball rate.

While it’s very possible he will vex Cubs batters, it’s almost a certainty that Jed Hoyer will be frustrated watching Lynn pitch. Not only is the Brownsburg, IN native a guy the Cubs probably should have gone after more seriously, but Hoyer cited his recent extension with the Sox while bemoaning the Cubs’ inability to retain their own star players.

Lynn’s success this season has come from a significant change to his repertoire that sees him throwing the cutter a lot more than ever. He’s still a big fastball guy and he’ll throw a combination of the two- and four-seam over 60% of the time, but the cutter is up to nearly 32% after making up 23% of Lynn’s arsenal last season and no more than 16% in any previous year.

As you can probably guess from some quick math, he’ll mix in the change and curve only sparingly when he feels like giving hitters a little wrinkle. The fastball sits 94 and the two-seam is a couple ticks slower, but the key is location. Lynn is able to avoid hard contact in the air, which allows him to keep the ball in the park as well as anyone.

He’s not overpowering and doesn’t have wipeout stuff, but he’s got an incredibly repeatable delivery that allows him to be exceptionally consistent. That makes it tough on hitters, who have to guess a little more than they might with some pitchers, and it’s the reason Lynn has been one of the most underrated pitchers in the game throughout pretty much his entire career.

I don’t have a good feeling about this one, folks, though I guess that’s not a bold statement given the times. First pitch from Wrigley is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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