1. Kris Bryant, 3B
2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
3. Javy Baez, SS
4. Kyle Schwarber, LF
5. Willson Contreras, C
6. Jason Heyward, RF
7. Nico Hoerner, 2B
8. Ian Happ, CF
9. Victor Caratini, DH
Tonight will only be the 13th big league debut of Mitch Keller’s career, so I don’t want to read too much into his divisions too soon. I will say, however, that lefties (.407 wOBA) have produced a lot more than righties (.356 wOBA) so far. And in terms of FIP, the difference is more than a full race: 2.84 FIP versus 3.87 FIP. The Cubs also saw Keller twice at the end of last season, scoring him for 6 runs in 4.1 innings the first time, but only 1 earned run in 5.0 innings the second time around (with 7 strikeouts) . Adjustments may have been made.
In any case, Kyle Schwarber (3-4, 2 2Bs, BB) had the most success against Keller, and Jason Heyward hit him homer as well.
But Keller is a young pitcher and the progress he could make in his sophomore year could be substantial. In his first start of the season, for example, he held the Cardinals to just 2 hits and 3 marches in 5.0 innings of one-inning. As for the pitch mix, he won’t overpower anyone with his fastball, but he has a good slider that he often uses against right-handed people and a shift that he pumps against left-handed people.
Today’s lineup is pretty much a collection of usual suspects, with the only move found in the order of hitters 7, 8, and 9, which are almost always Hoerner, Caratini, and Happ in some order.
As usual, we’ll have your Pre-Gamin ‘post closer to playtime (7:15 CT).