Well here we are, the rubber match against Madison Bumgarner in San Francisco after two consecutive series losses and an ever-dwindling first-place lead.
- Ben Zobrist, RF
- Albert Almora Jr., CF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Willson Contreras, 1B
- Ian Happ, 2B
- Javy Baez, SS
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Alex Avila, C
- Kyle Hendricks, P
Whew. Where to begin?
Well, first and most notably, Anthony Rizzo gets a scheduled day off (which automatically turns into two days with the off day tomorrow – Joe Maddon’s typical M.O.). In his place on the field, you’ll find Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras (which means the left-handed back-up, Alex Avila, is catching). In his place in the order, you’ll find Kris Bryant who bumps back a spot in favor of Albert Almora Jr.
And to that end, with three straight lefties on the mound this weekend, we have indeed seen three straight starts from Almora, and so far, so good: .333/.429/.333 (obviously this is the smallest of sample sizes, but that doesn’t mean it’s not nice to see). Keep crushing lefties, dude, and there’ll be at-bats for you.
Jason Heyward and Jon Jay are also both getting days off, while Ben Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber shuffle into the outfield corners. Ian Happ is playing second today, and Javy is still covering short.
There were a lot of moving parts to this lineup, but nothing too surprising given the lefty on the mound and off day for Rizzo. It’s certainly an unusual lineup, but maybe that’s just what the Cubs needed to lock in this series W.
As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ closer to game time (2:45 CT).