Knuckleball News

Cubs make lineup adjustments ahead of Game 3

16 October 2016: Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) smiles in game two of the National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)
Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon has decided to shuffle his lineup ahead of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The most noteworthy change is sliding first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the No. 3 spot in the order down to No. 4. Rizzo has spent the majority of the season batting third in the Cubs’ lineup just behind third baseman Kris Bryant. Rizzo has struggled tremendously during the postseason, though, as he’s collected just one hit in 23 playoff at-bats. He has struck out six times, with his lone hit coming in Game 3 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants.

Rizzo also struggled more against left-handed pitching this season (.832 OPS compared to .970), which may have factored into the move. Southpaw Rich Hill is on the mound for the Dodgers.

Maddon moved left fielder Ben Zobrist, who had been hitting clean-up, into Rizzo’s vacated No. 3 spot in the order. Zobrist is hitting just .217 thus far during the postseason, but slashed .301/.401/.455 from the right side of the plate during the regular season.

Shortstop Addison Russell, who has also struggled at the plate of late, was moved from the fifth spot in the lineup down to seventh ahead of tonight’s game. Russell’s September swoon (.231 AVG, .301 OBP) has extended well into October, as he’s just 1-for-22 so far in the postseason.

Second baseman Javier Baez was moved up into the No. 5 spot, with right-hand hitting Jorge Soler taking Jason Heyward’s spot in right field against Hill. Heyward has not been close to himself at the plate all season long, and he’s been particularly dismal (.207 AVG) against left-handers. Maddon said Soler has not played much during the playoffs due to an injury, but that he is now good to go.

Game 1 hero Miguel Montero will do the catching for right-hander Jake Arrieta and bat eighth.

Both clubs will be looking to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series starting at 8:00pm ET.

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