Finally! After an excruciatingly long break break, the Cubs are back in action tonight against the Indians. And David Ross has a new-look lineup for us against Adam Plutko.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
1. Kris Bryant, 3B
2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
3. Javy Baez, SS
4. Kyle Schwarber, LF
5. Willson Contreras, C
6. Ian Happ, CF
7. Jason Heyward, RF
8. Victor Caratini, DH
9. Jason Kipnis, 2B
After declaring Ian Happ the full-time center fielder, David Ross is putting his money where his mouth is, moving Happ way up in the lineup (from 9th to 6th). The sixth spot in the order, previously reserved for Jason Heyward, has been part of the consistent, everyday group, so this is pretty notable. Before today, Happ had mostly just bounced around 8th and 9th.
There is always going to be (legitimate) concern about moving a guy around just as he had evidently figured things out, but Happ (.297/.409/.622; 181 wRC+) has literally been the best hitter on the Cubs this season and is the 14th most productive offensive player in MLB. Continuing to hide him in the 9th spot was needlessly reducing his opportunities (he’s got 9-11 fewer plate appearances through just 13 games than Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, and Kyle Schwarber, for example).
Other than that, I’ll note that Jason Kipnis, not Nico Hoerner, is in there against the righty, Plutko, which I suspect is something we may start seeing a little more often.
As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (6:10 CT).