Chicago Cubs Lineup (9/1/19): Javy Leads Off, Caratini at 1B, Almora in CF, Chatwood Starting for Darvish

Well this certainly is something. The Cubs are apparently playing a split-squad game Sunday afternoon, with Javy Báez leading off at short. Nicholas Castellanos is in right, Kris Bryant is at third, Victor Caratini is at first, and Jonathan Lucroy is catching. Then it’s Albert Almora Jr. in center, Addison Russell at second, and Ian Happ in left.

Oh, I get it, Joe Maddon is going with an all-right-handed lineup against a lefty who has shut down lefty hitters. May as well try something, since nothing else has really worked against this guy.

Gio González has flat-out baffled them in three previous starts this season just as he has throughout his career. Once capable of sitting in the mid-90’s, the southpaw now averages upper 80’s on both his four-seam and sinker. He’s throwing them less than ever as well, favoring the changeup as his primary offering.

The offspeed pitch is the best in his basket and he’ll deploy it differently based on the handedness of the batter. The tumbling action induces a lot of grounders on less than 68% contact and batters carry just a .169 average against it this season. While some pitchers are afraid to use their change against like-handed batters, González is perfectly comfortable attacking lefties as well.

Righties will get it about a third of the time with relatively even frequency in all counts. The exception is when batters get ahead, in which case González will through it around 43% of the time. He’ll almost never throw it for a first pitch or in even counts when facing a lefty batter, but he’ll use it when he gets ahead and to put them away.

González is exactly the kind of pitcher the Cubs seem to struggle with because he doesn’t have a big fastball and his stuff looks hittable. But he doesn’t pound the zone and doesn’t make many mistakes, baiting hitters into swing at pitches they can’t do much with. However, he might be coming back to earth after giving up only two homers in 35 innings.

With five homers allowed and 15 walks issued in his last four starts, González has displayed some serious command issues. Between that and have held the Cubs to three earned with 16 strikeouts, five walks, and just one homer over three previous starts (16.1 IP) this season, I’d say it’s time for a change.

Yu Darvish was supposed to get the start for the Cubs, but he has been scratched due to right forearm tightness. Tyler Chatwood is taking his place on the bump and the initial word is that Darvish has been dealing with this for the last five starts and will be skipping just this one start. Forearm pain can be a precursor for elbow issues, so let’s just hope this is a purely precautionary measure.

First pitch is at 1:20pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago and 670 The Score.

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