Tonight, the Cubs have a chance to leave Los Angeles with a split, but to do so they’ll have to go through a VERY tough left-hander named Hyun-Jin Ryu. And for this uniquely tough task, Joe Maddon has decided to go with a uniquely arranged lineup.
Check it out …
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Javy Baez, SS
- Kris Bryant, LF
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Willson Contreras, C
- David Bote, 3B
- Albert Almora Jr., CF
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Jose Quintana, P
- Addison Russell, 2B
Hyun-Jin Ryu has allowed an average of just one earned run per start (13) this season, so, yeah, he basically dominating everybody right now. HOWEVA, lefties have been particularly bad against him (.183/.181/.305) this season, so Joe Maddon has tried to reduce the number of southpaws in his starting lineup.
So on the bench today, you’ll find the switch-hitting Victor Caratini as well as lefties Daniel Descalso, Kyle Schwarber, and Carlos Gonzalez. This is literally the most non-lefties the Cubs can conjure at the moment (unless you benched Anthony Rizzo for Caratini to hit as a righty at first base, which … yeah, no thanks). And, as you can see, Javy Baez is taking over the leadoff duties in Schwarber’s place! That’s fun.
And also a good strategy: Baez is absolutely DEVASTATING left-handed pitchers this season, to the tune of a .348/.392/.804 slash line (yeah, that’s an .804 slugging percentage, not his OPS), so hopefully that helps combat Ryu’s recent success. For what it’s worth (which is not much given the sample), he’s 1-2 against Ryu in the past.
Of note: Carlos Gonzalez is 5-15 with a homer and 3 walks against Ryu before tonight, but they (Ryu and Gonzalez) were both different players in the year’s preceding this one, so I think sticking with as many righties (Bote, Russell, Almora) was probably the right call. Maybe you could convince me he should be in there instead of Jason Heyward (3-12, 2B, 4Ks), but that’s mostly a wash, I’d wager.
Alright, Cubs. Win this one and salvage this series. A split against this team in Los Angeles right now would be a perfectly fine outcome. Do you think you have it in you? As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (6:05 CT).