The lineup has been updated, as Ben Zobrist has been scratched, and Ian Happ has entered the batting order in his place. Original post follows.
The Cubs won the first game of the series, but can they keep it going against Joe Ross and the Nationals tonight?
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Daniel Murphy, 2B
- Javy Baez, SS
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Ben Zobrist, RF
- Kris Bryant, RF
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Willson Contreras, C
- Jon Lester, P
- David Bote, 3B
We’ve always known that despite his generally solid defense at third base, Kris Bryant could one day move to the outfield in a more regular capacity. Indeed, even after he returned from an injury earlier this month, we knew he might spend some time out there. Though I have to admit, I didn’t think we’d see Bryant out in center field again – at least not anytime soon – but here we are.
So why is Joe Maddon doing it? Well, this is what happens when you want to keep your foot on the offensive gas peddle, but have a tricky balance to strike.
On a different day, when Jason Heyward wasn’t on the disabled list, you might’ve seen Heyward out in center, Bryant or Ben Zobrist in right and David Bote or Bryant at third. But with him unavailable, Albert Almora struggling, and Ian Happ getting his spots chosen selectively, this alignment might be the optimization of maximum offense and passable defense.
I say, passable defense, of course, but woof … it could be as issue out there. Kris Bryant is talented, but not a center fielder, Ben Zobrist is old, and Kyle Schwarber has been surprisingly adequate (good, even), but is no one’s idea of a plus defender. And that all goes without mentioning the effective swapping out of Addison Russell’s ++ glove for Daniel Murphy’s … glove on the infield (the offensive improvement makes it worth it, but there is a huge defensive drop off).
So tonight, the Cubs’ strategy is clear: they’re going for offense and all of it. With Jon Lester and his fly ball tendencies on the mound, it could be a bit of a circus, but who knows … maybe it’ll work. I’ve had fun at the circus before.
As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ closer to game time (6:05 CT).