As if this series needed any more hype, the Cubs and Red Sox will be under the lights for Sunday Night Baseball in the rubber match of what has been a pretty exciting matchup thus far.
Opposing the Cubs will be lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, who’ll look to diminish the power the visitors have been displaying in the first two games. He’ll have his hands full against a lineup that features plenty of mashers, many of whom have yet to really take off.
Kyle Schwarber has been bitten by the strikeout bug, but he continues to reach base at an admirable clip. His last couple hits have been sort of a slug bunt down the left field line and a duck snort to center, so he could really benefit from a big night. Kris Bryant has been hitting .390 in a 10-game hit streak that includes a huge home run and a pair of doubles in front of his family in Boston.
Anthony Rizzo is seeing the ball well and Ben Zobrist appears to be heating up, as seen in Saturday’s home runs. Addison Russell is back at five after having been bumped down the previous game, which puts Jason Heyward back at six. Willson Contreras will catch Kyle Hendricks, with Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay in center and left. All told, this is probably the best lineup the Cubs can field, both at the plate and in the field.
Javy Baez is sitting again, which goes against the idea that he needs to play through his struggles. But Zobrist has already had a lot of rest and Almora and Jay are swinging hot bats. That’s the thing about a great roster, you just have to ride the guys who are feeling it. Maddon’s basically managing a fantasy roster in an eight-team league.
Hendricks is looking to build on a scoreless start his last time out after giving up 11 earned over 16 innings in his first three appearances. This Boston lineup has the lowest three-true-outcome rate (home runs, strikeouts, walks) in the majors, which should bode well for Hendricks. He’s been giving up a lot of longballs (for him, anyway), so he may get a little more leeway here. Just pitch to contact and let the defense handle the rest.
I smell a big game for the top of the Cubs’ lineup, one that’ll help Hendricks cruise and maybe allow the lights-out bullpen to take it easy. First pitch is 7:05 CT and the game is exclusively on ESPN.
Cubs. Sawx. Rubber game.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 30, 2017