Here's something encouraging:
From the Cubs-are-going-to-be-fine case file: Lackey, Lester and Arrieta have a 1.96 ERA last two times through rotation. @Cubs— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) June 24, 2017
Now, if the Cubs' hitting could only break out along with this starting pitching, maybe we'd have something. Here's an article by Jesse Rogers that suggests part of the problem is not being able to hit righthanders:
The Cubs rank first in the National League with an .818 OPS against lefties -- and it's no coincidence they had 11 runs when left-hander Jeff Locke started on Thursday.
Against righties, they rank 12th in OPS with a .726 mark. Their batting average against right-handers is .234, 15th -- dead last -- in the NL. The result is an 11-6 record against lefty starters and just a 26-30 mark when a righty starts.
And, a bit of news:
Brett Anderson (bearded left-hander who pitched in April, May for Cubs) travels today to join AA Tennessee. Rehab assignment to start sunday— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) June 24, 2017
Here are today’s particulars.
Jay LF, Bryant 1B, Contreras C, Russell SS, Happ 2B, Baez 3B, Almora CF, Zagunis RF, Lester P
Anthony Rizzo gets the day off.
Gordon 2B, Stanton RF, Yelich CF, Ozuna LF, Realmuto C, Prado 3B, Moore 1B, Riddle SS, Nicolino P
Jon Lester vs. Justin Nicolino
Maybe, just maybe, Jon Lester has turned the corner. His last two starts have been really good: 13 innings, 2.08 ERA, 0.923 WHIP, 17 strikeouts. He has not faced the Marlins this year, but his last start against them, June 23, 2016 in Miami, was very good too (seven innings, two runs, the bullpen blew the game).
Justin Nicolino joined the Marlins rotation May 14 and had a really good start vs. the Braves. Since then? Not so much. He's made three other starts, hasn't gotten out of the fourth inning in any of them, and allowed four home runs in 10 total innings in those three starts.
He's never faced the Cubs and the only Cub who's seen him is Jon Jay (1-for-3).
And, Nicolino is lefthanded. If the numbers above mean anything, the Cubs should be able to hit him hard.
Today's game is on ABC7 Chicago.
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