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Series Preview – Cubs at Marlins: Where Jeter Hates Fun

vs.

RECORDS: Cubs 5-9   Marlins 4-12

GAMETIMES: Monday-Wednesday 6:10

TV: WGN Monday, NBCSN Tuesday and Wednesday

WELCOME TO MIAMI: Fish Stripes

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Yu Darvish vs. Trevor Richards

Jose Quintan vs. Pablo Lopez

Cole Hamels vs. Sandy Alcantara

PROBABLE CUBS LINEUP

Ben Zobrist – RF

Kris Bryant – 3B

Anthony Rizzo – 1B

Javier Baez – SS

Jason Heyward – CF

Willson Contreras – C

Kyle Schwarber – LF

Daniel Descalso – 2B

 

PROBABLE MARLINS LINEUP

Curtis Granderson – LF

Brian Anderson – 3B

Neil Walker – 1B

Starlin Castro – 2B

Jorge Alfaro – C

Miguel Rojas – SS

Lewis Brinson – CF

Austin Dean – RF

 

Nothing like a sojourn down to the former Orange Bowl for a team to get healthy. Or to escape the snow. Or both, and hopefully it’s both for the Cubs.

They’ve caught a break in that even the gods didn’t want to see a Tyler Chatwood so badly they provided Chicago with a blizzard in the middle of April, which is a choice. Seems a touch exuberant on their part, but you understand the emotion. Because of that, the Cubs can stick with a four-man rotation thanks to off-days for the next two weeks, not bringing Jon Lester back until the 27th or so if they so choose. Which would give him nearly a full two weeks of recovery. Although they have two off-days on either side of a trip to Seattle, so they could hold their nose, close their eyes, and plunge into a singular Chatwood start and give Lester yet another week. Questions for down the road.

The only other questions are just lineup rotation. Will Albert Almora Jr. get to show off his hitting-grounders skills in his hometown? Or is the shifting of Heyward into center just something we’re going to have to get used to? Is Kyle Schwarber’s recent slump just a bad week or his inability to recognize breaking pitches going to raise Almora back into the lineup, with Zobrist shifting over to left? Didn’t Kris Bryant used to play outfield? Why is that a thing that doesn’t happen anymore to give Bote more looks? Does Bote need more looks? I don’t even know anymore.

The other boon of playing the Marlins is that you can declare the bullpen officially a Hazmat site if they can’t get the Marlins out. There’s no one here, so if they still refuse to puncture the strike zone, you can leave the lot of them down there and return to Chicago with a fresh batch. Darvish, Quintana, and Hamels will all seek to build on good starts (to varying degrees) against a lineup that were all paid $20 on the corner to come pose as MLB players for a few days while Derek Jeter steals more stadium cash.

And that’s really the story with the Marlins, a chance for Derek Jeter to do Yankees cosplay where it’s warmer and no one cares. They’re supposedly in a rebuild, which they’ve been in for at least 15 years and started when they had the best young outfield in the game (Ozuna, Yelich, Stanton) and traded it because…they felt like it? It was never quite clear. Of those trades, only Lewis Brinson is in the every day lineup and he’s striking out a third of the time and when he’s not doing that the contact he makes is more of a timid question. The only player hitting anything you would want to hide behind several curtains is Jorge Alfaro, who was once traded for Cole Hamels and more recently was part of the J.T. Realmuto deal. Miguel Rojas is literally the only other regular hitting over .230. If Darvish gets nibbly with this lot…

The rotation shows a little more promise. Pablo Lopez has nearly a 10-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and Sandy Alcantara’s high groundball ways are paying off. Both have been let down by the Marlins tendency to play defense like it was jai alai (local joke!). Trevor Richards has a plus-change-up but that’s about it, and is currently riding an incredible save of luck by seeing a .209 BABIP against while stranding nearly 90% of the runners he lets on. The crash is going to be hard on this one. The pen has been extremely walk-heavy, and basically if Sergio Romo and his walker are in your bullpen, you know you suck. But hey, he’ll come in and frisbee up some sliders for you. You wouldn’t know these guys if they came into your house and shit on your floor, which isn’t a bad representation of what they’ll be doing out of the pen soon enough.

It’s baseball, so you can never say the Cubs should win all three games. But the Cubs should win all three games, and then get just as healthy agains the strip-mined Diamondbacks and Bob Brenly and his less and less veiled racism show up for the weekend.

 

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