Tonight is as must-win as a non-elimination game can get before reaching the World Series. Let’s see if the Chicago Cubs can get back in it (and ensure, at least, a Game 5 at Wrigley on Thursday).
Here’s tonight’s starting lineup:
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Jon Jay, CF
- Addison Russell, SS
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Kyle Hendricks, P
As we explored earlier, Yu Darvish has fairly significant lefty/righty splits this season. So with that in mind, it’s not difficult to understand why Joe Maddon is sacrificing Javy Baez’s glove (and right-handed bat) to get a little better chance on offense.
It is difficult to understand, however, why it’s Ben Zobrist … again … instead of the switch-hitting Ian Happ – who’s a far superior hitter – at second base. I know Maddon has given us his reasoning a thousand times over – experience – but Happ is good at getting the ball in the air, which happens to be one of Darvish’s weaknesses, and the wind is blowing out tonight. Meanwhile, Zobrist has done next to nothing at the plate and is a huge defensive downgrade from Javy.
Please, prove me wrong, Ben! Seriously. Please.
But at least Joe threw us a single bone in the form of Kyle Schwarber, who is also good at lifting the ball, bats from the left side, and can hit it as hard as anyone. He’ll bat second this time around, pushing the struggling Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo down a spot in the order.
As expected, Jon Jay and Jason Heyward’s lefty bats remain in the lineup and Willson Contreras is still the starter behind the plate. Like the last few games against tough righties this postseason, I could make the case for Alex Avila, but I’m not complaining about Contreras’ game-changing bat, glove, and arm starting behind and hitting at the plate.
As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ closer to game time (8:00 CT). In the meantime, peruse:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) October 17, 2017