According to the Chicago Cubs on Twitter, Anthony Rizzo has been scratched from tonight’s game with lower back tightness.
Your new Cubs lineup against the Brewers is as follows:
- Ben Zobrist, RF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Willson Contreras, C
- Addison Russell, SS
- Victor Caratini, 1B
- Jason Heyward, CF
- Javy Baez, 2B
- Kyle Hendricks, P
So the changes – with Rizzo out – include Kyle Schwarber moving up to the three-hole, and Victor Caratini coming in to play first base (gotta love having a switch-hitting, positionally versatile catcher on the roster, eh?). Everything else looks about the same.
Of course, the Cubs probably could’ve gone with Ben Zobrist at first, with Ian Happ and/or Albert Almora in center and Jason Heyward in right, but this preserves a needed night-off from hitting/starting for Ian Happ (4Ks yesterday, 14Ks overall) and allows Almora to hang back against a pitcher who’s been very tough on righties.
As for Rizzo, it’s hard to know how serious the injury is so soon after it happens, but given that he was penciled into the lineup earlier today, I’m holding out hope it was simply bothering him just enough to not take an unnecessary risk this early in the season (and for what it’s worth, this seems to happen with him about once a year, every year).
It is unfortunate, though. Rizzo has been batting just .107/.219/.214 on the year (perhaps his back has been bothering him for a while?) and tonight’s starter, Brandon Woodruff, has been crushed by lefties in his career (.381 wOBA)
Until we know more, I’ll refrain from speculation. But, again, my guess is this is just one of those abundance of caution situations.
UPDATE: From Joe Maddon …
#Cubs Maddon on Rizzo: "He did a lot of extra hitting yesterday and that might have brought it on. It's definitely a day to day kind of thing. Definitely today, possibly [off] tomorrow, too."
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) April 6, 2018
While it stinks to have Rizzo out for any stretch of time, this does still strike me as general soreness and an appreciation for the calendar. It’s early, he’s a little beat up (and struggling anyway), why not let him rest?