I haven’t been dishing on each of the Chicago Cubs’ lineups this Spring Training because, for the most part, there really isn’t much useful you can take away from them. They are rarely indicative of the guys the manager actually wants to see in certain match-ups, much less indicative of the particular order – guys are put in various places to get at bats and get pulled, guys play out of position for practice purposes, etc.
But I did want to comment a little on today’s lineup, because it marks the return of Frank Schwindel (back tightness), and start number two for Seiya Suzuki. Also, because it is starting to look a little more real-potential-lineup-y:
Frank Schwindel returns to Cubs lineup today, hitting 3rd and playing 1B.
Suzuki hitting 2nd. Full lineup:
Ortega – DH
Suzuki – RF
Schwindel – 1B
Contreras – C
Happ – LF
Heyward – CF
Villar – SS
Wisdom – 3B
Madrigal – 2B
Hendricks on the bump.
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) March 27, 2022
The number two spot is where your best overall hitter should be, and given Suzuki’s contact-and-power-and-discipline profile, that seems like a great spot for him. Ahead of him you would have a variety of guys, depending on the day’s match-up (any of Rafael Ortega, Clint Frazier, Nick Madrigal, Jonathan Villar, or Nico Hoerner could make SOME sense, and maybe even Ian Happ sometimes). But following Suzuki with Schwindel, Contreras, and Happ? That sounds about right.
Meanwhile, you have Nick Madrigal in the secondary leadoff spot, playing second base when Hoerner is down. Ortega getting the DH start, I suspect, is once again about getting him ABs against lefties (the Royals are starting a lefty today). Basically, every time the Cubs have faced a lefty starter this spring, Rafael Ortega has led off. That’s not because he is great against lefties – quite the contrary – I think it’s because the Cubs want that information before having to make a trade or waiver decision.
Speaking of which, in Suzuki’s second outing in right field, Jason Heyward once again starts in center field. Given that you’ll want Suzuki and his center fielder to be working well together defensively as soon as the regular season starts, you can safely assume the Cubs are signaling as strongly as possible that Heyward will open the season as the starting center fielder, at least against righties. I am not quite gonna blow my lid about the Cubs wanting to give Heyward two more months to see if he can bounce back against righties, but if it means the Cubs lose Ortega or Michael Hermosillo for nothing, I will be steamed.
To be sure, you can already see where there will be rotations at play because of injuries and match-ups (I don’t think Jonathan Villar will start many games at shortstop, I don’t think Clint Frazier will sit very often if he’s up, etc.). But I think this is a lineup that is giving us some regular season hints.