Chicago Cubs Lineup: Montero Starts Again, Baez Back at 2B, Zobrist in RF
Miguel Montero will be starting for the second consecutive game, only the second time he’s done so this season. That could be a battery issue with Brett Anderson on the mound, or it could be a matter of the matchup. Pirates righty Chad Kuhl has held righty hitters to a .625 OPS (.878 vs. lefty hitters) and Willson Contreras has been limited to a .644 OPS in 41 plate appearances against righties (1.133 in 15 PA’s vs. LHP).
Montero, on the other hand, has a .768 OPS against righties this season and has put up solid overall offensive numbers in a backup role to this point.
Joe Maddon’s rolling out a very familiar lineup otherwise, as Schwarbryzzobrist is followed by Addison Russell, Jason Heyward, and Montero, with Anderson and Javy Baez filling out the order. He’s been scuffling, but Baez really needs to get regular at-bats to work through his issues and get back to the hitter we saw him become starting in June of 2016.
When it comes to hitters getting back, though, the conversation starts with Heyward. The right fielder has reached base in all of his starts this season and actually leads the team in average exit velocity (91.2 mph), a sign of how much better his contact has been.
After being absolutely undressed by the Pirates at Wrigley earlier in the month, the Cubs are hoping to loot and plunder in Pittsburgh. Kuhl, who has fared very poorly against Chicago in the past, might be exactly the pitcher they need to face in a get-right game. In three career starts, the righty has allowed 12 earned runs over only 10.1 innings (10.45 ERA). Home cooking might not help much, either, as Kuhl has a 6.44 ERA in seven starts at PNC Park.
Could be a chance for Kyle Schwarber to reach the Allegheny again.
This is an early game for all you slow-time folks, so make sure you’re tuned in at 6:05pm CT. Tonight’s game is on WGN locally and ESPN for those of you outside the Chicago market. Those are always fun ones for the Cubs’ unique geography for what’s considered “local,” so check here for more information on local affiliates.
Here's tonight's #Cubs lineup for the series opener in Pittsburgh.
Game preview: https://t.co/GYdg0M30wh pic.twitter.com/H68hIGFabn
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 24, 2017