Joe Maddon posted his lineup for the first of three with the Phillies. And Friday’s lineup has several changes with Anthony Rizzo getting a much-needed day off.
Anthony Rizzo is not in the starting lineup for the first time this season. Kris Bryant makes his second career start at first base, weather permitting. Javier Baez is at third base today with Jon Lester getting the ball. Bryant should have his first baseman’s glove and not have to use Baez’s.
Jason Heyward also gets the day off from the starting lineup. Matt Szczur is starting in right field today with LHP Adam Morgan starting for the Phillies.
Joe Maddon is using a right-handed heavy lineup today against Adam Morgan. The Phillies’ southpaw has held left-handers to a .247/.299/.381 line with a .681 OPS in 20 starts in the big leagues. Right-handers have hit .276/.321/.476 with a .797 OPS against Morgan.
Cubs batting order: Dexter Fowler CF, Ben Zobrist 2B, Kris Bryant 1B, Jorge Soler LF, Matt Szczur RF, Addison Russell SS, Javier Baez 3B, David Ross C, Jon Lester P
With lefty Adam Morgan on the hill for the Phillies this is the right time to get Rizzo a day off. Rizzo struggled on the nine-game road trip and for the first time in a while he appeared to have trouble catching up to the fastball.
Rizzo is batting .234/.371/.497 in 45 games with a .868 OPS. Rizzo’s numbers against lefties are off this season. After two seasons of thriving when he faced southpaws, Rizzo is hitting only .149/.298/.340 with a .639 OPS and five extra basehits in 57 plate appearances.
Joe Maddon must work in days off for Rizzo this season. And today is a good start. Rizzo played in and started all but two games last season. Rizzo faded in the second half and by October the 160 games had taken its toll on him.
The Cubs offense really filters through Rizzo. He is the glue that holds it together. When he’s hitting and getting on-base, the Cubs will put runs on the board. Rizzo’s struggles this past road trip (3-for-35) were felt in the Cubs’ win-loss record without needing to look at his stats.