It may be cold outside — and Anthony Rizzo may not have an extension in place — but gosh darn it, it’s Opening Day, the Cubs are playing, and fans are returning to Wrigley Field for a full 162-game season. I’m a happy camper. So let’s take a look at the first Chicago Cubs lineup of the season, and get this season started off right.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
1. Ian Happ, CF
2. Willson Contreras, C
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
4. Kris Bryant, 3B
5. Joc Pederson, LF
6. Javy Baez, SS
7. Jason Heyward, RF
8. David Bote, 2B
9. Kyle Hendricks, P
There are not many surprises in David Ross’ first Cubs lineup of the season. In fact, it’s exactly what I guessed back at the beginning of February and a group he used often throughout Spring Training. And since Ross prefers to stick with a consistent lineup as often as possible (at least, compared to Joe Maddon), I’m guessing we’ll see this group in this order against most righties all season. And that’s great! There’s a lot to like about it.
For example, the Cubs are keeping the switch-hitting, relatively speedy Ian Happ at lead off after a successful stint as the leadoff hitter in 2020. We’ll have to keep a close eye on his strikeout rate and make sure he continues to draw his walks and get on base, but the Cubs would be silly not to try him out to start the year given how well he handled the role in 2020.
For another, this order alternates lefties and righties all the way to the bottom. And although that’s not really necessary, it is nice because remember, the three-batter minimum *is* in effect for 2021 (that change pre-dated, and had nothing to do with, the pandemic).
For another (another), I like the idea of starting Javy Baez off in a low-pressure lineup spot after a down offensive season in 2020. I’m sure he could work his way back up, but I think this is the best way to start. And similarly, I like keeping Jason Heyward in the seventh spot, where he’s slashed .270/.353/.425 (106 wRC+) with an 11.4 BB% and 19.4 K% from 2019-2020.
As we discussed in the series preview, today’s Pirates starter Chad Kuhl has pretty pronounced splits in favor of lefties and never finished a season with an ERA below 4.20. So not only will I be taking this no-brainer bet from DraftKings Illinois Sportsbook I’m going to take a prob on Joc Pederson hitting a homer (Kuhl allows a ton of fly balls, hard contact, and, well, homers against lefties and Joc is hot).
NO-BRAINER offer from DK. If you bet $1, you can win $100 as long as the Cubs don't get no-hit: https://t.co/xjH3RAl0R1
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 1, 2021
As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (1:20). So stay tuned for that and LET’S FREAKIN’ GO CUBS!
Maybe it's too much to ask for, but I just want to see the #Cubs absolutely DEMOLISH the Pirates today.
I'm talking 10+ runs from the offense and a 7+ scoreless innings from Hendricks. Just an absolute "WE'RE HERE" moment.
Very sick of being forgotten.https://t.co/Vr2C7LfDXb
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) April 1, 2021