The Cubs took care of business against Strasburg and the Nationals last night, and will look to keep things going against the lefty Gio Gonzalez today.
Here’s the lineup for Game Two:
- Albert Almora Jr., CF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Addison Russell, SS
- Ben Zobrist, RF
- Javy Baez, 2B
- Ian Happ, LF
- Jon Lester, P
Gio Gonzalez has had some pretty significant lefty/righty splits this season (.229 wOBA v. LHH, .296 wOBA v. RHH), but the gap did narrow (from both ends) in the second half of the year.
In any case, Joe Maddon has loaded the lineup with righties this afternoon, including, of course Albert Almora Jr. in center field. If you weren’t paying attention this season, Almora has been the Cubs’ lefty killer all year long: .342/.411/.486. He’ll be a must-start against lefties all October and was a no-doubter for the lineup this afternoon.
With all of that said, I can’t say I expected Almora to bat leadoff tonight and for Jon Jay to be out of the lineup entirely (remember, Jay is a reverse split guy and Maddon seems to love him). But that creative Cubs manager decided to lead off with Almora instead, while keeping Ben Zobrist in the lineup, by way of sending Jason Heyward to the bench and putting Ian Happ in left field. (Added Note: Keeping Jay out of the starting lineup allows the Cubs to save him for those matchup pinch-hit opportunities late in the game since you can’t really neutralize him with a lefty).
Happ, by the way, hasn’t been great against lefties this season(98 wRC+) despite being a switch hitter, but he’s certainly a better offensive option than Heyward in that regard (71 wRC+). Shrug. I can dig this lineup and I bet most of you will too.
We’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ closer to game time.