Shuffling the Lineup in Advance of the Wild Card Game and Other Bullets

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Shuffling the Lineup in Advance of the Wild Card Game and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

kris bryant ivy outfieldThere’s a family farm near us that sells homemade pumpkin and apple donuts this time of year for a very short window of time. So I’m going to hit them up this morning and buy pretty much whatever they have. Sorry people behind me in line.

  • As we discussed yesterday in the Pre-Gamin’, yesterday’s lineup certainly looked like a potential Wild Card Game starting group, with Kyle Schwarber playing right field (which is easier at PNC Park than most places), Kris Bryant playing in left field (which is spacious), Tommy La Stella playing at third base (his bat has been good against Gerrit Cole), and Starlin Castro playing at second base (he’s been as hot as anyone in baseball). Then, after the Cubs took a lead, Javy Baez replaced La Stella at third, and Austin Jackson replaced Schwarber in right (and eventually moved to center, with Chris Denorfia taking over in right). Could that have been a preview for how things would be handled – in an ideal scenario – on Wednesday? I can’t say for sure just yet, but I absolutely do think that’s what was being explored. Joe Maddon said after the game only that he wanted guys to be aware of the various places they could play, and wanted to get another look at them (CSN).
  • In that scenario, one (of several, given the depth) guy left out is Chris Coghlan, who hasn’t been playing much these days. He’s noticed the change in his usage, and you can read his thoughts on the subject here at ESPN. He’s not been as offensively strong as usual lately – .227/.350/.394, 107 wRC+ from September on – but his line isn’t really worse than the guys who’ve typically been replacing him in the lineup (for example, Kyle Schwarber is at .214/.353/.400 during that same stretch). When it comes to the Wild Card Game, though, it’s worth keeping in mind that Gerrit Cole has a reverse split – he’s harder on lefties than righties.
  • As Coghlan, himself, said in that ESPN piece, though: you’ve just got to be ready. Everyone gets involved at various times, and the “starter” in a spot might not wind up the guy who plays most in that game.
  • Although he’s been fantastic in the bullpen this year, Travis Wood still expects to head into the offseason prepping as a starter (Tribune). The Cubs will have a very difficult tender decision with Wood this year, who’s arbitration-eligible one final time after this season before reaching free agency in 2017. Wood made $5.69 million this year, and could be due a bump to $6.5 million or more in 2016. Would the Cubs commit that amount to a guy they view as a reliever? Even a great one? Even one with the ability to swing for them if they need a starter in a pinch? There was a time earlier this year when I thought it was a no-brainer to non-tender Wood, as much as I like what he’s done, given how robust the pitching market is going to be after this season. But, man, he’s been so good as a reliever (2.87 ERA, 2.45 FIP, 3.48 xFIP since leaving the rotation), and so uniquely valuable as a guy who can shut down an inning, or go a few innings. That might be worth a tender. We’ll talk about it more after the season.
  • Thoughts and reflections on the season from Tom Ricketts at the Tribune.
  • Got me these bad boys here at Amazon:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.