Chicago Cubs Lineup (8/13/20): Nico Hoerner Leads Off After Kris Bryant Scratched

The Cubs enter Thursday’s game with the best record (12-3) and the largest division lead in baseball (5 games). They took two of three from Milwaukee to open the season and will face the 7-9 squad for a four-game set this weekend.

The Cubs initially announced their lineup with Kris Bryant leading off, but he was scratched due to left ring finger and wrist soreness. Bryant suffered the injuries in Wednesdays win against the Cleveland Indians. However, KB hit a home run after he hurt his wrist diving for a ball earlier in the game. His injury is not considered serious and he will likely be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.

The updated lineup now includes Nico Hoerner batting leadoff, followed by the traditional 2-6 hitters (i.e. Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber, and Ian Happ). David Bote gets the nod at third base today, batting seventh ahead of Steven Souza Jr. Victor Caratini caps the lineup in the ninth spot and will be Yu Darvish‘s battery mate.

Yu Darvish started the Cubs’ lone loss to the Brewers on opening weekend, which was also shown on FOX, but he’s looked much sharper since. As long as he’s hitting his spots and CB Bucknor isn’t behind the plate, we should see a very different outcome from the righty.

Going for the Brewers is old friend Brett Anderson, who’ll be looking to push to four innings for the first time on the season. Both of his previous starts have been abbreviated affairs, though not because he got shelled or anything. The sinkerballer has been getting a ton of contact on the ground and has the potential to wipe mistakes off the board with double plays.

Anderson is throwing more sinkers than ever, using them for nearly 60% of his pitches, but he’ll mix in quite a few changeups as well. The cutter accounts for around 10% of his pitches, with the slider and curve making up the rest. His four-seam is pretty much non-existent after several successive years of dialing it back. The burly lefty only sits 90 mph or so, relying on location to generate outs through contact.

Because he doesn’t possess wicked stuff, Anderson really hasn’t produced notable splits over the course of his career. In fact, lefties have historically hit him just a little better than righties. However, he’s changed course over the two previous seasons and has actually fared much better against lefties by getting them to beat the ball into the ground well over 60% of the time.

The key to this one may be making Anderson work and catching a mistake that he elevates just a little too much. He doesn’t figure to go too deep into the game even if he’s a little more stretched out than before, but the Cubs have shown the ability to grind opponents down in a variety of ways. As nice as it’d be to hang a few runs on Anderson early, that might not be necessary.

The first pitch is set for 6:15 pm ET on FOX and 670 The Score.

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