Chicago Cubs: Joe Maddon has plenty of options Wednesday
By Ryan Davies
Oct 2, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Chicago Cubs right fielder Chris Denorfia (15) traps ball hit by Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Domingo Santana (16) (not pictured) for a base hit in the ninth inning at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
The team’s wild cards for the postseason
Tommy La Stella, Chris Denorfia
Many thought, and still think, the lineup Maddon trotted out on Friday against the Brewers with Arrieta on the mound would be what we would see Wednesday. In this version of the Maddon mixer, La Stella manned third base while Bryant and Schwarber both took corner outfield positions.
If this was indeed a sneak preview, expect La Stella to hit out of the nine-hole. This is a bit concerning as La Stella has very limited experience at the hot corner having played just 52 innings there.
In addition, he sports just an .857 fielding percentage at the position, albeit it in a very small sample size. At the plate, Maddon would hide La Stella at the bottom to limit the number of at bats he sees. It seems with his ability to play a number of positions, he would be better suited for a defensive substitution late if needed rather than be placed in the starting lineup.
Denorfia, on the other hand, is a very interesting name to consider. Here you have a guy who hit .412 in September, hits .301 against righties, is hitting .322 out of the 7/8/9 spots and is 3-for-6 lifetime against Cole with two steals meaning he can pick him up early in his delivery.
By playing Denorfia, the Cubs would be able to keep Bryant at his natural third base position, likely making him feel more comfortable in his first playoff experience. With Denorfia, a solid defensive player in left and a hot bat in the lineup, he would fit perfectly in the seventh spot leaving Russell to hit ninth and be the table setter for the top of the order.
Regardless of how Maddon chooses to arrange his lineup card on Wednesday night, the Cubs will need to take advantage of every small opportunity they have and play strong behind Arrieta if the next time they return to Wrigley Field, it’s to play baseball and not clean out lockers.