The Cubs face yet another elimination game tonight, but, hey, it’s gonna be that way for a while if they want to return to the promised land.
Here’s the lineup for tonight’s contest:
- Albert Almora, CF
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Addison Russell, SS
- Javy Baez, 2B
- Ben Zobrist, RF
- Jose Quintana, P
If you remember back to Game One, you might recall that Clayton Kershaw, a lefty, has reverse split this season. In other words, fellow lefties hit him better than righties have, and by a lot. But even with that in mind, I’m on board with the decision to start Albert Almora in center field, because he has very significant splits of his own, and provides excellent defense in center field.
But in no way does it make any sense whatsoever – seriously this is mind-boggling – to start Ben Zobrist in right field tonight.
Not only is his defense an obvious and huge downgrade from Jason Heyward, but he’ll have to bat as a righty – and RIGHTIES HAVEN’T TOUCHED KERSHAW ALL YEAR. And on top of all that nonsense, Zobrist hasn’t been able to hit right-handed all season long because of an early wrist injury.
SO, basically, you’re taking a weak hitter, putting him on his weakest side, and making him face a starter who’s especially tough on guys batting that way. Oh, and by doing so, you’re taking an enormous defensive hit.
The way I see it, neither Heyward nor Zobrist have much of a chance to do damage at the plate tonight, so why not start the better glove/base runner? I just don’t get it. I really, really, really want to be proven wrong, but even if Zobrist does make something happen, he’ll have lucked into it. This is just not the sort of thinking we’re accustom to seeing from Maddon, other than the fact that it’s surprising and against conventional wisdom.
But I suppose there’s nothing we can do but root Zobrist on, hope for the best, and see if the Cubs can force this series back to Los Angeles. As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ closer to game time (7:00 CT).