The Cubs will try to end this four-game losing skid, and they’ll have to do it without one of their best bats, as Anthony Rizzo continues to deal with a back issue.
Chicago Cubs Lineup vs. Miami Marlins (Tom Koehler):
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Kris Bryant, 1B
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Chris Coghlan, LF
- Javy Baez, 3B
- Addison Russell, SS
- Kyle Hendricks, P
- Albert Almora Jr., CF
A lot to note in that lineup, as you can see. Not only is Rizzo out again, but it’s Kris Bryant covering at first base, and not super utility man Javy Baez. Instead, Baez stays at third base, which is potentially a nod to how effective he’s been there (because, again, Bryant has been fantastic at third, too). Baez had previously played first base in this formulation of the defense.
Then you’ve got Willson Contreras back behind the plate, as Joe Maddon makes good on his comments about having Contreras catch regularly when Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester are not starting.
Then you’ve got the pitcher back in the 8-hole, something we haven’t seen in a long time. Part of the reason for doing this previously was that you wanted the opportunity to pinch hit just a little earlier if the starting pitcher was going to come out just a little earlier. The Cubs went away from this for a good long while, but I wonder if some additional data suggested this was the better move. We’ll see if it’s a one-time thing or if it sticks around.
Lastly, you’ve got Jason Heyward leading off instead of Ben Zobrist or Chris Coghlan, who’d previously been up top when Dexter Fowler was absent. Interesting.
We’ll have a full Pre-Gamin’ closer to game time.