To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve had nerves about this moment all summer. I’ve written up a thousand Cubs lineup posts in my lifetime, but this is the longest I’ve gone between lineups that actually, you know, count. Let’s see if I still know how to do this, when it actually matters.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
1. Kris Bryant, 3B
2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
3. Javy Baez, SS
4. Kyle Schwarber, LF
5. Willson Contreras, C
6. Jason Heyward, RF
7. Victor Caratini, DH
8. Nico Hoerner, 2B
9. Ian Happ, CF
Let’s start with the basics: Despite injuries for each slugger during Summer Camp, both Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are healthy and in the lineup tonight. That, alone, is a huge win for the Cubs, who are trying out their brand new top-of-the-order in hopes that Bryant can relieve them of the leadoff question for the foreseeable future (or, at least the next 60+162 games … when he becomes a free agent (exxxxxxxxtend him)).
After that, you’ll find the rest of the Cubs true core of Javy Baez (at short), Kyle Schwarber (in left), and Willson Contreras (behind the plate). Most nights, this will be your regular top of the order, especially as David Ross has indicated a desire to deploy a more set lineup day in and day out – with the exception of Victor Caratini catching Yu Darvish, like he will tomorrow.
As for the rest of the lineup, I think the pitching matchup can explain a lot:
Brandon Woodruff Career Splits:
v. LHH: .274/.341/.417 (.328 wOBA)
v. RHH: .211/.264/.312 (.251 wOBA)
You want Jason Heyward in there against most righties, especially ones with big lefty/righty splits like this, and the same can be said for Caratini as the designated hitter. As for center field, I think you’ll see Ian Happ there most days, except against lefties or when Kyle Schwarber DHs and pushes Happ to left field (when Albert Almora may cover center field).
The only real question of the day is Nico Hoerner starting at second base. I have all the love in the world for Hoerner and believe he is the second baseman of the future. However, starting him against a tough righty seems odd when Jason Kipnis was brought in almost specifically for that reason. I don’t necessarily think Hoerner needs to be in a strict platoon all season, but Woodruff clearly has big splits. I almost wonder if there is some other reason Kipnis isn’t starting.
In any case, this is no time to squabble. The Chicago Cubs are playing a real, regular season baseball game tonight and I couldn’t be more ready. As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (6:10 CT).
Fun with Cubs props for tonight. Gimme the over on Kyle Hendricks strikeouts (4.5), and I'll got nuts and call Jason Heyward to hit a homer (+1200).
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) July 24, 2020