Tonight, the Cubs are starting an important four-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati. And to kick things off against the lefty, Wade Miley, David Ross has a few new names in his starting lineup.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
1. Kris Bryant, LF
2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
3. Javy Baez, SS
4. Kyle Schwarber, DH
5. Willson Contreras, C
6. Steven Souza Jr., RF
7. David Bote, 3B
8. Nico Hoerner, 2B
9. Albert Almora Jr., CF
With Miley on the mound tonight, I had no doubts we’d see Albert Almora Jr. grab his first start, as well as Nico Hoerner returning to second base. What we didn’t know for sure, however, was how Ross was going to juggle Jason Heyward (in or out), Kyle Schwarber (left field or DH), Steven Souza Jr. (right or left field), and David Bote (in or out).
Now we know, and although it isn’t exactly how I would’ve handled it, I am on board with this arrangement.
With that said, this lineup is resting a lot on hope. For example, while Almora began his career as a lefty crusher, he actually struggled mightily against them last season, slashing .213/.254/.278 (37 wRC+) in 53 games (108 PAs). Similarly, David Bote worked lefties in his 2018 debut: .275/.381/.490 (134 wRC+), but dropped down to an 80 wRC+ last season. And lastly, while Steven Souza Jr. has always handled lefties well throughout his career (108 wRC+) it’s been nearly two full years since he’s taken an at-bat in a big league game.
Nonetheless, I generally like the process behind these decisions (though I probably wouldn’t have taken out Ian Happ, who’s been absolutely smoking the ball), and I think this lineup gives the Cubs a good chance to win. As usual, we’ll have your full pre-gamin’ post closer to game time (5:40 CT).