The Chicago Cubs are looking to win their third consecutive series and fourth of their last five, believe it or not. It wasn’t long ago that people were talking about this being the worst Cubs team in their storied history. Fortunately, for the fans at least, the team has turned it around led by some unlikely heroes.
Rafael Ortega leads things off playing center, followed by red-hot Frank Schwindel at first, Ian Happ in left, and Willson Contreras hitting cleanup. Patrick Wisdom bats fifth in the order at third, followed by Jason Heyward in right, David Bote at second, and Sergio Alcantara at short.
Alec Mills had a very weird line last time out against the Pirates, giving up just two earned runs despite three homers. Three of the five total runs were unearned, a product of the same bad luck that has plagued him more than once this season. That comes from getting a lot of his outs via contact and having a defense that hasn’t always played at an elite level.
Mills has faced the Reds twice this season, allowing a total of five earned runs over 11.2 innings. The first of those efforts was one of his best starts of the year as he struck out nine with just one walk in 5.2 innings. Cincy touched him up for three runs on nine hits in late July and Mills neither walked nor struck out a batter over six frames.
Starting for the Reds is 25-year-old righty Vladimir Gutiérrez, he of the spider throat tattoo and three previous starts against the Cubs this year. Chicago has managed just five runs in those meetings, but they rapped out nine hits and got two runs to win the most recent one.
After taking some time to find his footing, Gutiérrez won four straight starts by allowing a total of five runs over 25.1 innings. The Cubs handed him a loss and he’s taken an L in his last two starts as well, so there’s really no telling who we’ll see tonight. He’s probably going to walk some batters and he isn’t necessarily a big strikeout guy, but he’s found ways to befuddle this team before.
Gutiérrez has a 93 mph fastball that he’ll throw about 47% of the time with pretty poor overall results. His breaking balls are both subpar and account for another 42% of his pitches, but the key to his success is the changeup. Once he really got the feel for it in July, it become a serious weapon.
Having the change working allows him to pitch to reverse splits, though much of that comes from limiting left-handed hitters at Great American Ball Park. When he’s going as the visitor, he’s been much tougher on righties. We’ll see if he can keep that up tonight as the Cubs look to get back in the win column.
First pitch is once again at 6:40pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 8, 2021