Today, the Cubs will play their 163rd game of the 2018 MLB season. If they win it, they win the division. If they lose, they’ll play in the dreaded one-game Wild Card Playoff tomorrow. I sure hope they plan on winning.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Daniel Murphy, 2B
- Ben Zobrist, RF
- Javy Baez, SS
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Jason Heyward, CF
- Jose Quintana, P
- Willson Contreras, C
Upfront: We’ll have much more on Jose Quintana coming out in a bit, as well as in your regularly schedule Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (12:05 CT).
In the meantime, today’s lineup is exactly like yesterday’s (aside from the pitcher, of course) in all but one way: Jose Quintana is batting eighth, but Mike Montgomery hit ninth. If you’re wondering why, I’d venture to guess that Joe Maddon is going to have a relatively quick pull at the trigger if there’s a big pinch-hit opportunity or need to shift to the bullpen. Having Quintana bat one spot higher can help that pinch-hit opportunity come up a little earlier.
Or it could leave the pitcher up in a critical spot with runners in scoring position, but more than 1 out early in the game. But who’s counting?
As for the personnel, this lineup wasn’t just predictable, it’s spot on. Jhoulys Chacin has had significant lefty/right splits this season, to the point where getting Daniel Murphy, Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber, and Jason Heyward in there was a no-brainer (obviously Anthony Rizzo was going to start no matter what).
Versus Lefties: .263/.355/.431 (.341 wOBA)
Versus Righties: .174/.245/.289 (.236 wOBA)
As for Kris Bryant and Javy Baez, obviously you’re not going to take either of those guys out either, so the only real decision point comes down to Willson Contreras. You could probably convince my brain that Victor Caratini should have been strongly considered, but I wholeheartedly would not have swapped him in for Contreras – especially since he’s batting ninth anyway. Contreras swung the bat well yesterday afternoon, is stronger against the running game, and is the better player overall as well as the guy you want in there for huge games. So, yeah. That’s that.
But how do you like it? Is this the group you would have gone with? In this order? Let’s hope the Cubs can pull something off. And, as I mentioned, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ closer to game time.