A couple of lefties take the hill tonight for the series finale between the Cubs and Angels. For the boys in blue, Jon Lester takes the ball in his 6th career start in Anaheim. On the other side, 24 year old Andrew Heaney will be called upon to face the Cub’s dangerous lineup.
Let’s start with Heaney:
As a Rookie call-up last season, Andrew Heaney made 18 starts, posting a 3.49 ERA, and a record of 6-4. Similar to last night’s starter, Garrett Richards, Heaney relies most heavily on pitches with downward movement, making him a ground ball pitcher. Last night, some of the Cub’s sluggers struggled with breaking balls down in the zone, particularly Kyle Schwarber who went down on strikes twice.
Speaking of Schwarber, he and some of the other lefties will have to make adjustments in order to exploit the young Angel’s starter, who has spent time ranked as the Angels top prospect. This could translate to a less productive game out of switch-hitting Dexter Fowler, who generally swings the bat better from the left side. With a smooth, consistent delivery, Heaney is not anyone to sneeze at, and the Cubs will have to be patient at the plate, not chasing balls in the dirt.
Here’s what to look for out of Lester:
The compliment to John Lackey in the veteran combo that Theo and the brass have created, Lester’s game is all about experience and precision. Over the last 5 seasons, only Albert Pujols, Andreton Simmons, and Geovany Soto have batted above .250 against Lester, and not a single player in the lineup tonight for the Angels has taken him deep.
As Lester appeared to have perhaps the best spring of his career, expect him to be all that he has throughout his career, serving as a force of stability for the staff as a whole. Tonight should be no different, so watch out for a second dominant start in a row from the Cub’s rotation.
Last note: Mike Trout, who struggled against Jake Arrieta last night, striking out twice, is a career .182 hitter against Lester. Once again, limiting Trout’s ability to produce is key to beating this Anaheim team.
First pitch 10:05. Let’s go Cubs!