Jon Lester will be on the bump for the third time making a Wrigley season debut that has been pushed back by weather. You’ll recall that Lester was in line for the home opener before rain in Cincinnati forced him to take the first game in Milwaukee. The lefty put up a vintage performance in that one, dotting the zone in a way we haven’t seen as often over the last year and change.
After watching Tyler Chatwood pound the zone in all the wrong ways Tuesday afternoon, it’ll be a welcome sight to have Lester mimic his last start.
Lester is backed by Albert Almora Jr., who’s batting leadoff and starting in center field. He’s gotten a hit in every game he’s started this year, so look for him to build on that momentum. Kris Bryant is hitting second, followed by Willson Contreras and Ben Zobrist, who’s batting cleanup and playing left field tonight.
Rounding out the order is Addison Russell at short, Victor Caratini playing first, Javy Baez at second, and Jason Heyward batting eighth and covering right field. They’ll be up against lefty Steven Brault, who’s on the hill for the Pirates.
Known as much to this point for his sci-fi tattoo sleeves as his pitching, Brault will be making his third start and sixth total appearance at Wrigley. That wouldn’t be otherwise notable, except that Brault has only made 12 starts and had 21 total MLB appearances. It’s hard to take much from his stats, though Brault has struggled with control over his time with the Pirates (4.26 BB/9).
He’ll go big on the low-90’s fastball/sinker combo, using those for roughly 69 percent of his offerings. The slider and change will factor as well, though only the change has produced any real value over the course of his MLB career. Brault also has a curveball that he might be throwing a little more than in the past.
Despite giving up lots of medium and hard contact and not being an extreme groundball pitcher, Brault has does a good job of keeping the ball in the yard. Even if the Cubs can take advantage of his propensity to walk batters, they’ll need to make some serious improvements when it comes to situational hitting. Maybe they can, uh, tattoo a few of his pitches.
WGN will be carrying the 7:05pm CT start, though out-of-market viewers can watch on MLB Network. And if you can’t find the right television station, just turn your radio dial to 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 11, 2018