"Now that the Chicago Cubs (96-55) have secured their playoff spot, the team needs to focus on improving in high-leverage situations. Especially batting with RISP."
The Cubs are slashing .251/.417/.767 with RISP, but with two outs it drops to .218/.384/.727. Most notably, Willson Contreras’ batting average drops from .271 to .201
If Contreras is going to be the catcher this October, he’s going to need to produce in high-leverage situations.
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He’s hitting .286 in 35 high-leverage at bats during the regular season, but the playoffs are a much different monster.
Coach Joe Maddon gave Miguel Montero the catching duties for John Lackey (9-8, 3.42 ERA) tonight, adding another chance for him to state his case to make the playoff roster. In his last 10 games, Montero has raised his batting average from .199 to .217.
The last time Montero and Lackey worked together, Miguel hit a walk off home run in extra innings to give the Cubs a 5-4 win over Milwaukee. Lackey earning a no decision after throwing seven innings, allowing all four runs while striking out eight.
The Cubs average just north of four runs in Lackey’s starts.
At home, he’s held opponents to a .206 batting average in 103 innings, but the Cincinnati Reds (63-88) against this year, he’s 1-2 with a 6.38 ERA. Cincinnati is slashing .288/.485/.848 against Lackey in three contests, averaging over four runs scored per start.
The Reds will look to get an early lead behind Robert Stephenson (2-1, 4.97 ERA), making his fourth career start for the club.
Stephenson has spent a bulk of the season in the minors after being sent down in April. He’s 8-9 with a 4.47 ERA in 24 with triple-A Louisville.
He’s the first Reds player since Larry Luebbers in 1993 to win his first two starts with the team after Homer Bailey was deemed unable to play as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.
In four starts this month, he’s 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA. On Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he gave up four runs on four hits in a no-decision.
Reds management has expressed a great deal of interest in Stephenson, implying that they figure the 23-year-old will soon be a familiar face with the club.
The lineups for tonight’s game are as follows: