Fresh of acquiring one of the best available starters out there in Chris Archer, the Pirates are hosting the Cubs tonight at PNC. Here’s how the Cubs will line up.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Javy Baez, 3B
- Albert Almora Jr., CF
- Ian Happ, LF
- Willson Contreras, C
- Jon Lester, P
- Addison Russell, SS
Later tonight, the Cubs will be squaring up against Jameson Taillon and the 26-year-old Pirates’ right-hander has some notable lefty/righty splits this season:
Verus Lefties: .321 wOBA
Versus Righties: .265 wOBA
The same trend is true for his career, which is probably why he’ll get three straight southpaws to open up the game tonight in Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, and Jason Heyward. Zobrist, in particular, has been hot lately, so I’m glad to see the Cubs found a way to get him in the lineup again. With Kris Bryant out and Zobrist in at second, Javy Baez covers third base and Addison Russell stays at short. But that all makes plenty of sense.
The part that’s a bit trickier is why Kyle Schwarber is getting the day off against a guy who hates facing lefties. Obviously, with the trade deadline looming, too, it makes everything all the more intriguing. HOWEVA, I’m not sure it’s really that sexy.
For one, Happ and Zobrist have been pretty hot lately, so getting them both in there was probably something the Cubs wanted to do no matter what. For another, Maddon loves giving players a day off just before or after an off-day so they get a longer break. And for yet another, Albert Almora’s defense in center field is much more necessary when Jon Lester starts, because the Cubs southpaw gets very few ground balls these days.
Having him Heyward, Almora, and Happ in the outfield at the same time – essentially three capable center fielders (which is, perhaps, a stretch of the word capable) – makes plenty of sense. For what it’s worth, the Pirates’s fly ball rate against lefties is right in the middle of the pack this year.
We’ll have your Series Preview up soon and your Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (6:05 CT).