Chicago Cubs Lineup (7/25/20) – Contreras Handles DH, Kipnis at 2B, Darvish on Mound

It’d be cool if the Cubs could shut their opponents out every game. Yeah, they should do that. Yu Darvish has done really well against the Brewers in the past, so it’s possible. But just in case, the lineup should hang a bunch of runs on the Brewers this afternoon.

Kris Bryant is leading off at third with Anthony Rizzo, who bent his knee in an apolitical statement even boycotters could have enjoyed when he got low on a line-drive homer, following. Javy Báez is at short, Kyle Schwarber is in left, Willson Contreras is the DH, and Victor Caratini resumes his role as Darvish’s personal catcher.

Jason Kipnis makes his first regular season start as a Cub as he handles second base, and Ian Happ patrols center field. We’re already seeing some trends emerging through two games, with Schwarber playing the field most of the time and the catchers swapping out in the DH role. Happ getting consecutive starts in center is a thing as well.

Darvish didn’t look good at all when he first took the mound on the South Side for his lone exhibition appearance, giving up five runs to the first five batters he faced. He settled down after that, however, and started dotting his pitches with the same efficiency he displayed in the second half last season.

The righty indicated afterward that it was a matter of getting to where the game felt real, sort of like he finally woke up or something. If that’s the case and he’s ready to go right from the start in this one, he’ll provide a potent foil to Kyle Hendricks‘ more pedestrian velocity. Darvish faced Milwaukee twice last season, striking out 15 batters and allowing just one run on eight hits and one walk over 10 innings.

The Brewers are sending Corbin Burnes to the mound in what figures to be his first “full” season as a starter since he was a prospect in 2017. He made 32 appearances for Milwaukee last season, only four of which were starts, and put up an unsightly 8.82 ERA. His fastball/slider combo led to 70 strikeouts over just 49 innings, but he also allowed 17 homers.

Most of those dingers came in those four starts to open the 2019 campaign, with the Cubs tagging him for three when they faced him on April 6. Burnes made two subsequent relief appearances against his division rivals, striking out four and walking one over 1.2 innings of work. Even taking out those abysmal early efforts, the dude had a 7.76 ERA with a really high .420 BABIP allowed.

That might seem to some like a terrible run of bad luck, but it’s more a matter of Burnes’ mistakes being hammered. If the fastball isn’t located well and the slider isn’t sliding, he’s a bigger version of Craig Kimbrel. Let’s hope that’s the case in this one.

First pitch from Wrigley is at 12:05pm CT on FOX and 670 The Score. Don’t be shocked by the fake fans in the stands.

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