The scene for the World Series is now the bricks and ivy of Wrigley Field. With the series tied at one game each, the Chicago Cubs offense looks to put on a show in Game 3.
After an amazing opening two games in Cleveland, the World Series moves to Wrigley Field. The Chicago Cubs hope that their win in Game 2 provides momentum moving forward. The energy of the Wrigley Field crowd should help.
The Cubs offense showed its ability to score without using the long ball. Base hits by Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, and Kyle Schwarber pushed the team toward victory on Wednesday night. Add in tons of great at-bats, with fouling off 37 pitches, the Cubs had traffic on base all night long. However, they only scored five runs. Thirteen runners were left on base, and the team batted 3-12 with runners in scoring position. That must change.
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And it should in Game 3.
The Chicago Cubs bats are looking at the pitching match-up for Friday night and licking their chops. On the mound, the Cleveland Indians send Josh Tomlin, a 32-year-old right-handed pitcher. In the Indian’s organization his entire career, Tomlin managed a 13-9 record in 2016. While he walks only 2.7% of all batters faces, he gives up home runs. During the regular season, he allowed 36 home runs, third most in the Major Leagues.
Tomlin’s arsenal contains five pitches: four-seam fastball, cutter, sinker, curveball, change-up. Most noteworthy when scouting Tomlin is the fact that over 66% of his pitches are the fastball and cutter. Opponents hit .318 of the cutter and .227 off the fastball, with a combined 29 home runs. All of his pitches range between 79 and 85 miles per hour, except his 71 MPH curve.
While Tomlin is a right-handed pitcher, his splits versus left-handed batters are good. Lefties only hit for a .229/.247/.438 split this season, with only 14 home runs while right-handed bats where .299/.323/.522 with 22 long balls. As a result, Cubs Manager Joe Maddon may send Jorge Soler to play in right field. Furthermore, Dexter Fowler and Zobrist may bat right-handed as well.
The chill of Cleveland will be replaced with warm temperatures in Chicago on Friday. Currently, the forecast calls for a daytime high of 66 degrees. That will help pitchers improve their control, therefore enhance Chicago Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks‘ ability to generate movement. However, this also is an advantage for the Cubs offense.
One thing Tomlin will not like when the game starts will be the outfield flags. They will be blowing out. The average wind on Friday is forecast at 18 miles per hour from the south. In other words, straight out. This bodes well for Kris Bryant and Javier Baez.
In order to take advantage of these conditions, the Chicago Cubs must hit with runners on base. On the year, Tomlin allowed batters to hit .309 when men were on base. When a runner gets on first and there are less than two outs, he allows .306 average. But, if there are one or two outs, that goes up to .397. Getting runners on should lead to Tomlin attacking the strike zone with Bryant and Baez at the plate. Tomlin tends to hit the middle of the plate, and that is right where the Cubs power bats what it.
The ingredients are there. Warmer temperature, strong wind, a pitcher that throws 66% fastballs, and a team that hits the fastball better than anyone else. The Chicago Cubs offense has a chance to flex its muscle and put up crooked numbers. They need Cy Young candidate Hendricks to keep the Indians at bay, or else it could be a long night.
Grab the popcorn, folks. This could be a great show.