Chicago Cubs Lineup (8/15/21): Ortega Leads Off, Heyward Returns, Mills Pitching

The Cubs are in the midst of their second double-digit losing streak this season, only the second time in franchise history they’ve accomplished such an ignominious feat. The first time came in 1954, when they had skids of 10 and 11 games just like this time around. So far, anyway.

Rafael Ortega keeps on racking up the hits and he’s again leading off in center as the Cubs try to avoid a sweep in Miami. Frank Schwindel has been raking as well, so he takes the No. 2 spot and plays first base. Ian Happ bats third in left, Matt Duffy cleans up at third base, and David Bote is at second.

Jason Heyward returns from the IL to play right, Robinson Chirinos is behind the plate, and Andrew Romine plays short.

Alec Mills has been one of the few bright spots for the Cubs this season and an argument could be made that he’s their best starter right now. Among those with at least 50 innings this season, his 54.2% groundball rate and 4.15 FIP are easily the best. Over the last month, his 3.09 ERA is more than two runs better than Kyle Hendricks (5.35), who is the next-closest starter in that category.

The Marlins were late in announcing their starter for this one, but it’ll be Elieser Hernandez taking the bump in the series finale. This is just his third start of the season, though he’s spent the last four years bouncing back and forth from the minors to Miami. His numbers have been very good in limited action over the last two seasons, with a 3.27 ERA and 43 strikeouts to just five walks over 33 innings.

Hernandez has allowed seven homers among 26 in that time, though, so he’s susceptible to hard contact because he pitches in the zone quite a bit. And by “quite a bit,” I mean more than any other pitcher in baseball with at least 30 innings since 2020. Only four pitchers are even above 50%, with Hernandez’s 53.7% leading the way.

He’s got a reliever’s repertoire, relying on his 91 mph fastball for 62% of his pitches and throwing the slider 37% of the time. He’ll throw a rare changeup, though the Cubs might see more of those if Hernandez goes a little deeper in this one. As you can probably guess, the slider is his calling card and is the pitch he relies upon for those strikeouts. That also means he can get in big trouble when it backs up.

There’s not much else to say about this one, as the Cubs simply need to win. Or maybe not, if you’re among those who is just rooting for a higher pick at this point.

First pitch from Miami is set for 12:10pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.

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