This would seem to be an important homestand for the Cubs. They've got a chance to get to the All-Star break in first place, and with players coming back from the DL, this would be a great time to put together a winning streak.
Let's start today, shall we?
Here are today’s particulars.
Jay LF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Happ CF, Heyward RF, Contreras C, Russell SS, Lester P
Souza RF, Dickerson LF, Longoria 3B, Ramos C, Plouffe 1B, Beckham 2B, Hechavarria SS, Bourjos CF, Archer P
Jon Lester vs. Chris Archer
The Cubs shifted around their rotation so that Jon Lester could throw in this game, presumably giving them a better shot against Chris Archer. This was a good idea; it also sets up Lester to start Sunday, and then open the second half a week from Friday in Baltimore.
Lester has been much better at home this year (2.68 ERA, 1.018 WHIP in nine starts) than on the road (4.96 ERA, 1.500 WHIP in eight starts), so it's a good idea to have him throw at Wrigley more often.
Jon has 28 career starts against the Rays, but of course all of them were while he was in the same division as they were, as a Red Sox starter. Even so, he has a long track record against many of their players, as current Rays are 30-for-133 (.226) against him with five homers, three of those by Evan Longoria.
The swap is good for another reason: the Rays have not been good vs. LH starters this year, just 9-16.
Chris Archer, the subject of many desires of Cubs fans for a trade here, has been good this year. Not "ace" good, just good. And recently, he's been... not good. Over his last four starts he's posted a 4.88 ERA and 1.417 WHIP, with six home runs allowed in 24 innings. He will give you innings -- he's thrown at least six in 14 of 17 starts this year.
The last time he faced the Cubs was the last time the Rays were at Wrigley, August 8, 2014. He threw six innings and allowed two runs (one earned). But look at that boxscore -- most of the Cubs in that lineup aren't on the team anymore. Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo, who both went 1-for-3 in that game, are the only current Cubs who have faced him.
Today's game is on WGN.
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