Chicago Cubs Lineup: Ian Happ's Turn to Leadoff

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Chicago Cubs Lineup: Ian Happ’s Turn to Leadoff

Chicago Cubs

Here’s how Joe Maddon has decided to make some of you very angry today.

Chicago Cubs Lineup: 

  1. Ian Happ, CF
  2. Jason Heyward, RF
  3. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  5. Javy Baez, 3B
  6. Kyle Schwarber, LF
  7. Victor Caratini, C
  8. Cole Hamels, P
  9. 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).

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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