Here’s how Joe Maddon has decided to make some of you very angry today.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Ian Happ, CF
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Javy Baez, 3B
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Victor Caratini, C
- Cole Hamels, P
- Addison Russell, SS
Today’s starting pitcher, Trevor Williams, has been effectively split neutral this season and only slightly favors left-handers throughout his career. Nonetheless, the Cubs have just two right-handers in the lineup today in Addison Russell and Javy Baez – that tends to happen when you start three switch-hitters (Ian Happ, Ben Zobrist, and Victor Caratini).
Indeed, after smashing the game-winning home run in yesterday’s matchup, Happ is not only starting again today, he’s leading off. He’s been pretty quiet since the All-Star break (79 wRC+), but Albert Almora Jr. has been even quieter (51 wRC+), so Happ gets the edge. Jason Heyward follows, batting second as usual, and Ben Zobrist/Anthony Rizzo take the heart of the order.
Javy Baez, playing third today, slides down a bit, though he actually is working on a three-game hitting streak. Kyle Schwarber is out in left and Addison Russell plays short and bats last.
Willson Contreras is getting the day off today, and I happen to find that a little odd. Sure, Victor Caratini can bat left-handed and needs to start sometimes, but the Cubs just had an off day on Monday and have a day-game on Sunday, following a night-game tomorrow (which means, he’s likely to miss one of those games already). He’s also been batting suspiciously low in the batting order lately and was pinch-run for the night of David Bote’s walk-off grand slam.
I can genuinely explain away all of those as circumstantial (and believe it), but I do wonder if Maddon is playing it extra safe with his young catcher down the stretch. This is a conversation for another day, but I’m just throwing it out there.
As usual, we’ll have more on your pitching matchups in the full Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (6:05 CT).