The Cubs got lucky last night after jumping out to a big lead, so what say they do us all a favor and win an easy one tonight? That’s not too much to ask, especially given the matchup and the overall talent of the two clubs.
Ian Happ leads off in center, followed by catcher Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo at first. Javy Báez is at short, Steven Souza Jr. is in left, and José Martínez is the DH. Cameron Maybin gets his first Cubs start in right, David Bote is at third, and Nico Hoerner plays second.
Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward are healthy and available tonight, but David Ross is giving them a break while also giving time to others who’ve just (re)joined the team.
Kyle Hendricks is just 1-2 with a 6.61 ERA on the road, mainly due to two really bad outings in Cincinnati. He’s also given up 11 earned runs over his last three starts as five of the 20 hits he’s surrendered have left the yard. That’s a matter of missing his spots and leaving the changeup in the zone a little too much, but just a couple small changes should have him back to normal.
I originally had a lengthy breakdown of Derek Holland here, but the Pirates pulled the ol’ switcheroo and went with Joe Musgrove on me. The good news is that the big righty is pitching just about as well as the Dutch Oven, which is to say he’s not pitching well at all. Fresh off the IL after sitting for nearly a month with a triceps issue, Musgrove has a 6.75 ERA with 11 walks and four homers allowed in 14.2 innings.
Of course, he thoroughly dominated the Cubs in four meetings last season, limiting them to four earned runs with 27 strikeouts and just four walks over 23.2 innings. That basically means every other team he faced roughed him up pretty good, something we’ve seen so far this season. It’s hard to know what Musgrove will have in the tank after a long layoff, but it might be best not to underestimate him.
The key will be his slider, the only pitch of the six he throws regularly that has generated positive value for him over the course of his career. It’s been bad in the early going this year, though, hence the wildly disparate splits that see right-handed hitters absolutely crushing him. Musgrove has typically been pretty split-neutral, so I’m interested to see what happens in this one.
I was confident in the Cubs’ ability to beat up on their former teammate and I’m almost at that same level with Musgrove. They’ll have to have his number after last year, right?
First pitch is at 6:05pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 2, 2020