Joe Maddon posted his lineup for the first of four in Miami with the Marlins. Jon Lester takes the ball for the Cubs and lefty Wei-Yin Chen is starting for Don Mattingly.
Anthony Rizzo is not starting Thursday’s game. Rizzo was lifted from Wednesday’s game at Wrigley with back stiffness and was day-to-day. The flight to Miami apparently did not help the nagging injury to his back.
Maddon is starting Willson Contreras at first base tonight. With Lester on the hill, David Ross is catching. Kris Bryant is in left field and Javier Baez starts at third base.
Willson Contreras has experience at first base. Contreras played one game in the Arizona Fall League at first last season. And has 21 games worth of experience, 18 starts, at first base over four seasons in the Cubs’ system. Contreras was only used as a catcher in Iowa.
Willson Contreras is hitting behind Kris Bryant tonight, batting clean-up for Joe Maddon.
Cubs batting order: Ben Zobrist 2B, Jason Heyward RF, Kris Bryant LF, Willson Contreras 1B, Javier Baez 3B, Addison Russell SS, Albert Almora Jr. CF, David Ross C, Jon Lester P
Maddon has six right-handed bats and switch-hitting Ben Zobrist in his starting lineup, which was expected. Right-handers have hit .274/.322/.510 with a .831 OPS against Wei-Yin Chen this season. Right-handers have 32 extra basehits (16 doubles, two triples, 14 home runs) against Chen this season. Left-handers have batted .294/.315/.412 against him with a .727 OPS.
Maddon will begin the game with Anthony Rizzo, Miguel Montero, Matt Szczur and Chris Coghlan on his bench. Rizzo’s availability is unknown at this point.