Game Seventy-One: Cubs (47-23) vs. Marlins (38-34)
- Game Time – 6:10pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network – Radio: WSCR 670 The Score, Cubs Radio Network, XM Radio Channels 185, 844
- Location – Marlins Park, Miami
Jon Lester, LHP (9-3, 2.06/0.99/2.97) vs. Wei-Yin Chen, LHP (4-2, 5.22/1.33/4.73)
It’s a new day and the Cubs begin an 11-game road trip tonight with the first of four against the Marlins. The Cubs turn to Jon Lester to end the losing skid and keep the team from dropping four in a row for the first time this season. The Cubs want to remain the only team in the National League that hasn’t lost four straight games this year.
The Cubs enter play tonight at Marlins Park with a significant lead (9 ½ games) over the Cardinals, who begin a three-game series with the Mariners on Friday night.
The Cubs split the six games with the Marlins last season (1-2 at Marlins Park) and have not played well at Marlins Park since it opened in 2012 (6-7). The Cubs face a Marlins team that has outplayed external expectations. Don Mattingly is calling the shots for the Fish these days and Barry Bonds is the team’s hitting coach. The Marlins are in third place in the NL East, 4 ½ games behind the Nationals and a game back of the second place New York Metropolitans.
After tonight’s matchup of southpaws Jon Lester and Wei-Yin Chen, Kyle Hendricks is scheduled to take on right-hander Tom Koehler on Friday night (6:10pm CDT). Saturday afternoon (3:10pm CDT) has John Lackey on the schedule against right-hander Paul Clemens. And the Cubs have Jason Hammel lined up with Jose Fernandez for Sunday’s finale (12:10pm CDT).
Tonight will be an emotional game for Albert Almora Jr., who is expected to be in the starting lineup with the lefty on the hill for the Fish. Almora Jr. returns home and his father is supposed to attend tonight’s game and see his son play in a Major League game for the first time.
Joe Maddon’s starting lineup should lean to the right side. If Anthony Rizzo is unable to play, Jason Heyward might be the only lefty in the lineup. Right-handers have a .831 OPS against Wei-Yin Chen this season with a .274/.322/.510 slash line. Left-handers have a .727 OPS against Chen with a .294/.315/.412 line. Righties have hit 32 extra basehits (16 doubles, two triples, 14 home runs) against Chen this season.
Maddon prefers Javier Baez at third base when Lester starts which should push Kris Bryant to left field or to first base if Rizzo is not available. David Ross will be behind the plate.
Tonight all starts with Jon Lester …
Jon Lester did not have his good stuff last time out. Lester struggled against the Pirates with just missing his spots for a majority of his outing. Lester limited the Pirates to three runs on seven hits with three walks. Lester struck out seven and put his team in position to win the game. The Cubs picked up the 4-3 victory after David Ross launched a solo home run.
Lester is 4-0 in his last four starts with a 1.20 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. And on the road this season, Lester is 5-1 in six starts with a 1.69 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.
Jon Lester has never beaten the Marlins. In three career starts against the Fish, Lester is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA and 1.87 WHIP. Last season, the Marlins torched Lester for six runs on nine hits with a walk in five innings. The Cubs lost the game at Marlins Park by a 7-3 final score.
Marlins Career Numbers against Jon Lester
- Ichiro Suzuki: 19-for-56 with two home runs and two walks
- Jeff Mathis: 4-for-12 with one double
- Martin Prado: 6-for-10 with three doubles
- Chris Johnson: 1-for-8 with one home run
- Adeiny Hechavarria: 2-for-5 with one home run
- Marcell Ozuna: 2-for-2 with one double and one walk
- J.T. Realmuto: 1-for-3
- Giancarlo Stanton: 1-for-3 with one home run
The Cubs get their first look at lefty Wei-Yin Chen. The former Orioles hurler has really struggled of late after a solid start to the season, his first with the Marlins.
The Rockies knocked Chen out of the game in the third inning in his last start. Chen allowed six runs on seven hits without a single home run in 2 1/3 innings.
Over his last four starts, Chen is 1-0 with a 7.78 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. Chen has given up 17 runs on 24 hits with six walks and 15 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings. Chen has struggled in his home park to the tune of a 1-1 record in eight starts with a 5.98 ERA and 1.53 WHIP.
Wei-Yin Chen makes his first start against the Cubs tonight and only three players on Joe Maddon’s active roster have faced Chen in a regular season ballgame. Ben Zobrist (15-for-40 with three doubles, one home run and four walks), David Ross (4-for-15 with one double) and Jason Heyward (1-for-3) should all be in Maddon’s lineup for the opener.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …