Chicago Cubs Lineups: Baez Leads Off and Plays Third, Bryant Moves to the Outfield

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Chicago Cubs Lineups: Baez Leads Off and Plays Third, Bryant Moves to the Outfield

Chicago Cubs

Joe Maddon has decided to change things up again today (not that we expect anything less after his recent comments), not only in the order of the lineup, but also the defensive alignments.

Take a look:

Chicago Cubs Lineup: 

  1. Javy Baez, 3B
  2. Kris Bryant, RF
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Willson Contreras, C
  5. Kyle Schwarber, LF
  6. Addison Russell, SS
  7. Albert Almora, CF
  8. David Bote, 2B
  9. Jon Lester, P

Okay, there’s obviously a lot to address, but let’s start with the stuff we more or less know. With Jason Heyward out (concussion DL), someone had to play right field. But instead of rolling with Ben Zobrist for the second consecutive day, Maddon decided to plop Kris Bryant out there again for his third start in the outfield this season. Okay, fine. That’s not something were super unfamiliar with – Bryant sometimes plays in the outfield – and with Happ still working on his approach against righties (50 K%, 70 wRC+) and Zobrist’s need for extra rest, it’s really not that crazy that Bryant is the guy.

But what about Javy Baez back-filling for Kris Bryant at third base instead of David Bote, who takes second? Well, one theory Brett offered up was with the left-hander Jon Lester on the mound for the Cubs, the White Sox righties might be hitting more balls to the left side of the infield today, which is now manned by Addison Russell and Javy Baez. And I like that theory.

Lester may not have his highest ground ball rate this season, but he does have the highest pull rate of his career (45.6%), and that increases even further against righties (51.1%). In fact, now that I see those numbers, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the plan. If Jason Heyward was back, I wouldn’t expect this alignment of course – Kris Bryant is a more than capable third baseman – but given the circumstances, it makes sense.

As for Javy leading off … who knows. He is hitting righties extremely well this year, and doesn’t ever seem bothered by moving around a lot. Though it is pretty funny that he batted cleanup and played second yesterday and is leading off and playing third today. I guess Maddon is just taking full advantage of Javy’s versatility and baseball IQ.

As for Albert Almora in center field against a righty, James Shields has been pretty split neutral for his career and has been a reverse split guy this season, so no issues here.

As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ closer to game time (1:20 CT).


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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami