Sure, yesterday’s game had plenty of tension, but 4 1⁄2 hours is maybe a little too much excitement (OK, just 4:27, plus a 15-minute rain delay). There are probably plenty of Eastern Time Zone viewers with dinner plans tonight, so something a little speedier would be nice.
Once again, the White Sox are big favorites, not just because with the fire sale the Cubs have fallen to No. 24 on the ESPN team rankings (White Sox are No. 5), but also because of the pitching matchup.
Carlos Rodón is on the mound for the Sox, coming in with an 8-5 record and a sterling 2.49 ERA. Rodón has looked pretty tired his last two outings — Steve Stone referred to a “dead arm” —but had an eight-day break, which we have to hope is sufficient time to recover.
The Cubs counter with righthander Adbert Alzolay, whose ERA is almost twice Rodón’s, at 4.85, with a 5.29 FIP and 1.180 WHIP. That’s mostly because the last time he got a lefty out was roughly 2012. Lefties crush him to the tune of a 1.022 OPS, barely below Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.’s MLB-leading OPS of 1.052.
Alzolay used a six-pitch arsenal in a July game, but he mostly throws sliders (41%), sinkers (30%), and 4-seamers (17%). The fastball runs mid-90s, and he does get a strikeout an inning, but he gives up the long ball a lot — 23 in 98 innings.
The dinger weakness may be partially pitching in Wrigley, where the wind can be a big factor. It was blowing out strongly yesterday, but didn’t come into play against Lance Lynn or Kyle Hendricks at all; however, it helped to drive four homers in the last three innings. Today what little breeze there is (six mph or so) is out of the south-southeast, which would be toward the left-field corner.
While our HOFBP inexplicably put out a righty-heavy lineup against Hendricks yesterday — a lineup that only scored against him due to an inning with three lucky singles, with the rest of the runs from left-handed bats against relievers — he’s got all the lefties he can stuff in there except Gavin Sheets against Alzolay today.
Meanwhile, Cubs manager David Ross, who earned a big assist in the White Sox victory yesterday thanks to a totally brain-dead pitching change as well as sitting his two best veteran hitters, has what regulars are still on the roster in the lineup today.
The Cubs’ wonderful owners, who showed sympathy for the fans having to watch a mostly minor league outfit now but selling seats for as low as $109, actually have some listed for just $89 today, though one suspects a nifty vision of a pole may be involved.
First pitch scheduled for 1:20 p.m. Central, feels like 90 degrees, usual broadcast suspects.