One game down, 161 to go. We’re back at Wrigley Field this afternoon, to take on the Brewers and their other Cy Young caliber starter, Brandon Woodruff. Let’s hope the Cubs have as much luck as they did yesterday.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
1. Clint Frazier, DH
2. Nick Madrigal, 2B
3. Willson Contreras, C
4. Ian Happ, LF
5. Seiya Suzuki, RF
6. Jonathan Villar, SS
7. Jason Heyward, CF
8. Patrick Wisdom, 3B
9. Alfonso Rivas, 1B
Okay, wow there is a lot to unpack here, most of which I like. For one, we’ve got a new leadoff hitter today, Clint Frazier, one of the Cubs hottest bats this spring, subbing out Rafael Ortega at DH. Personally, I’d prefer to keep Ortega’s bat in there at center field over Jason Heyward, but that’s clearly just not going to happen so I’ll eventually stop mentioning it as a complaint. And in any case, I’m just happy to see as much Frazier as possible, because I do believe he has a shot to break back out with the bat in a meaningful way for the Cubs.
After that, we’ve got the lefty, Alfonso Rivas, coming in for Frank Schwindel at first base. I don’t think this will be anything close to a strict platoon (Schwindel is the starter, in my mind), but against especially tough righties who throw hard and at the top of the zone? Yeah, makes sense to me.
But that’s where we get to our first mystery. While I understood why Patrick Wisdom got the start at third base yesterday over Jonathan Villar (Corbin Burnes isn’t a high-in-the-zone fastball guy, so Wisdom was a fine matchup), Woodruff’s skillset exactly matches Wisdom’s weakness. That’s part of the reason the Cubs brought Villar in over the offseason in the first place. But instead of subbing out Wisdom at third, Villar is in there for … Nico Hoerner, at shortstop? I don’t want to read too much into it, but I am sufficiently confused that I hope Hoerner is feeling okay. I could be missing something obvious*, but I was very much expecting Villar and Hoerner on the left side of the infield this afternoon.
*Against a really talented pitcher like Woodruff, you might prefer to keep a “worse” matchup like Wisdom in there because he does have a better chance of running into a home run. In other words, David Ross might just be selling out for the long ball, especially if he feels confident about the contact ability already present in Villar and Madrigal.
Anyway, with Schwindel out, Seiya Suzuki moves up to 5th in the lineup. And before the year is over, I’m guessing he’ll bat higher than that.
As usual, we’ll have your full Pre-Gamin’ post closer to game time (1:20 CT).