Chicago Cubs Lineup: Willson Contreras is Leading Off and Ian Happ Is ... On the Bench?

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Chicago Cubs Lineup: Willson Contreras is Leading Off and Ian Happ Is … On the Bench?

Chicago Cubs

Okay, yes, just about everything on Thursday sucked (from the loss, to the boredom, to the weather). But the sun is shining today, the Cubs still have two more shots to win this VERY winnable series against the Pirates, and … JAKE FREAKIN’ ARRIETA is starting for the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Come on, there’s enough here to like. Let’s forget about the opener and try this thing again.

Chicago Cubs Lineup:

1. Willson Contreras, C
2. Kris Bryant, 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
4. Javy Baez, SS
5. Joc Pederson, LF
6. Jake Marisnick, CF
7. Jason Heyward, RF
8. David Bote, 2B
9. Jake Arrieta, P

The Cubs are facing their first lefty of the season today, but Tyler Anderson, 31, doesn’t actually carry crazy splits. In fact, he’s exactly split neutral for his career, with a .344 wOBA against both lefties and righties. And, in fact, he had really strong reverse splits last season:

v. LHH: .309/.364/.500 (.365 wOBA)
v. RHH: .233/.324/.371 (.308 wOBA)

And that makes today a really great day for Joc Pederson to grab a start.

Remember, the Cubs promised the left-handed hitting Pederson a good, long look against lefties (at least, to start the year), despite very pronounced career splits of his own. And a split-neutral, soft-tossing, reverse-split-in-2020 southpaw like Anderson is as good as it’s gonna get. I’m glad he’s in there and getting his shot.

… What I don’t entirely understand, however, is why Ian Happ is out.

Happ hit lefties just fine last season (100 wRC+) and is going to need to develop that half of his game against big league pitching if he’s going to be the Cubs everyday leadoff man over the long-term, which sure seems to be the idea. And, again, Anderson is the *exact* kind of lefty to get reps against, because he’s not particularly tough on anyone. So I’m not really sure I get it.

Yes, Jake Marisnick was brought in to help against lefties because he crushes him and I *did* expect to see this exact substitution at points throughout the season the season, but it’s the second dang game? Ian Happ is the everyday center fielder and a switch-hitter. He should be in here against this not-particularly-tough southpaw. Not because Marisnick doesn’t give them a good chance *today*, but because Happ’s game against lefties is more important long-term (and also isn’t half-bad).

One other thought: David Ross liked to keep his lineups *very* predictable and stable last season, so I do have to wonder if this might be our default “against lefties” lineup most times out. I’d be surprised if that were the case, but then again I’m already surprised right now.

We’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (1:20 CT).

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami