And we’re back! That wasn’t so bad, right? Thanks to two Cubs in the HR Derby, two Cubs in the All-Star game, and an early start tonight, the All-Star break waiting wasn’t nearly as bad as other years. Here’s how they’ll line up tonight.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Ian Happ, CF
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Addison Russell, SS
- Victor Caratini, C
- Kyle Hendricks, P
Against the right-hander Carlos Martinez tonight, the Cubs are starting six batters capable of swinging it from the left-side of the plate, including all three of their switch-hitters. HOWEVA, it’s worth pointing out that Martinez has been pretty split neutral this season (if anything, he has a tiny reverse spit), but the opposite is true for his much-longer career.
Among the casualties in the platooning is All-Stars Javy Baez and Willson Contreras. Of course, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, their absence from the lineup is almost certainly about giving them a breather after their busy week than anything else. And with five games over the next four days, we’re going to be seeing plenty of them, so here’s hoping they get a nice rest and are unneeded tonight.
Also notable from this lineup is the continued presence of Anthony Rizzo at the top. Obviously, as he’s done many times with many different players this season, Joe Maddon stuck Rizzo up at the top to get him out of a little funk … and it worked! Rizzo has a three-game hitting streak (6 total hits, 3 for extra bases and two walks), so he’ll stay in that spot tonight.
And you know what? I think I’m coming around to the idea of leading him off permanently. I’ll have to dig into more deeply another time, but if he is – for whatever reason – as comfortable there as he seems to be, I think it could be beneficial for everyone. And we also have to remember this isn’t 2014 anymore.
The Cubs have a healthy and productive Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, and Willson Contreras to stick in the middle of the lineup for some thump. In other words, Rizzo doesn’t need to carry the weight, especially when we know he’s good at taking pitches, accepting walks, getting on base, and avoiding strikeouts. He’s not fast or anything (who cares about that anymore?), but I’m genuinely beginning to think he makes a perfect leadoff hitter for this Cubs team. And, hey, it’s not like you don’t want him up as many times as anybody in the offense, when he’s on.
Sign me up.
As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ closer to game time (6:05 CT).