Tonight, the Chicago Cubs will kick off a five-game playoff series against the Washington Nationals on the road.
Here’s the lineup for Game One:
- Ben Zobrist, RF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Addison Russell, SS
- Jason Heyward, CF
- Javy Baez, 2B
- Kyle Hendricks, P
First, before we discuss the particulars, it’s important to point out Stephen Strasburg’s lefty/righty splits (or lack thereof) from 2017:
Versus Lefties: .248 wOBA, 2.97 FIP
Versus Righties: .256 wOBA, 2.48 FIP
Yikes. Basically Strasburg is the worst kind of split neutral pitcher – really good against both types of hitters. Of course, just because he’s split neutral doesn’t mean the Cubs left-handed batters won’t have an advantage of their own. And, so, that’s probably why you see 3 of them (plus a switch-hitter) in the lineup tonight.
Of particular note, you’ll see that it’s Ben Zobrist leading off today, despite Javy Baez’s presence at second base and Kyle Schwarber’s bat in left field. To fit all three guys into the order, then, Jason Heyward was forced out to center, while the lefty Jon Jay and switch-hitter Ian Happ (better as a lefty) both ride the bench.
Heyward hasn’t started in center field for the Cubs since the end of August and did so just twice in the entire second half. He’s more than capable of playing there, of course, I just didn’t necessarily expect this particular defensive alignment tonight. I guess Joe Maddon really believes Zobrist is feeling as good as he ever has. But beyond that, everything else is pretty much business as usual.
We’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ closer to game time (6:30 CT).