The Cubs dropped the first two games of this series against the Pirates, before winning last night.
They now have a a chance at a four-game road-split, which, all things considered wouldn’t be half-bad.
Here’s the group that’ll try:
- Ian Happ, CF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Javy Baez, SS
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Rene Rivera, C
- Jon Lester, P
The Pirates starter tonight, Jameson Taillon, has had pretty significant lefty/righty splits this season:
Versus Lefties: .364 wOBA
Versus Righties: .320 wOBA
So the Cubs have loaded up with left-handers … except behind the plate, where the righty Rene Rivera, not the lefty Alex Avila, is catching Jon Lester. Rivera has been significantly bad against righties for his career (.254 wOBA), while Avila (who had a game-winning triple last night) has been pretty great against them (.348 wOBA), so you have to wonder if Jon Lester just simply prefers Rivera behind the plate. Shrug. It’s possible and not that unheard of.
And who knows, maybe the Cubs will make up the difference with their new leadoff man, rookie Ian Happ. Against right-handed pitching, Happ has walked in 11.2% of his plate appearances this year, while getting on base at a .336 clip. More impressively, he’s slugged .545 with 17 homers in just 242 plate appearances. When there’s a righty on the mound, he’s a guy you want in the game.
Let’s see if fit pays off, and, as usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ closer to game time (6:05 CT).