Chicago Cubs Lineup: White-Hot Baez at Second Base, Montero Catching Forms Battery with Arrieta

Looking for more success on the diamond than his team experienced last night, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin made like so many guys in so many cheesy commercials: He went to Jerad. Rather than a galleria of jewelry, however, we’re talking about starting pitcher Eickhoff. In his third year in Philly, the righty has consistently put up solid numbers by limiting free runners and generally avoiding the longball.

Eickhoff has performed really well against the Cubs in three career starts, going 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 23 strikeouts against 6 walks. Those numbers are skewed by a couple of excellent starts at Citizens Bank Park, though, as he allowed 4 earned over 6 innings in his only start at Wrigley.

The Evansville native has put up significantly better numbers against righties, limiting 536 batters to a .254 wOBA and walking them at only a 4.1 percent rate. Lefties, however, have posted a .345 wOBA and walk at a 7.1 percent rate. They also hit home runs at nearly double the rate of their right-handed-hitting counterparts (1.60 vs. 0.85 HR/9). Good thing the Cubs naturally go with a lefty-heavy lineup.

That could be part of the reason Miguel Montero is in there behind the dish to complement the regular lineup. And it’s also part of why we’re not seeing Albert Almora Jr., though Jon Jay’s bat is on the bench too. Then you’ve got the right-handed Javy Baez back in and hitting ninth, looking to build upon recent success that includes back-to-back multi-hit games and a near-cycle last night.

Have we already mentioned just how loaded this roster is? How many teams feature at least three guys whose absence from the lineup on an everyday basis can be questioned? That’s rhetorical, by the way.

Jake Arrieta has given up at least one homer in each of his last four games, over which he’s allowed 15 earned runs to cross the plate. Cubs starters as a unit have allowed 1st-inning runs in 11 of the last 14 games, with Arrieta standing as one of the primary culprits. He’s given up nine runs (eight earned) in the opening frames of his last two starts, so getting three clean outs and keeping his team out of an early hole is going to be key.

Temps are expected to be in the upper 40’s when the first pitch is thrown at 7:05 CT on CSN Chicago, so here’s to hoping the Cubs’ bats can warm things up.

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