The Chicago Cubs shook up the lineup in a big way ahead of the first game of a critical three-game series at Wrigley Field against the St. Louis Cardinals.
At some point, everyone knew it had to be coming. Carrying a season-worst six-game losing streak, the Chicago Cubs return to Wrigley Field with a new-look lineup.
Most notably, struggling outfielder Kyle Schwarber moves down to the seven-spot in the lineup, ahead of shortstop Addison Russell and starting pitcher John Lackey. Schwarber, who carries a .063/.211/.250 line over his last seven games, has been a target of fans and pundits alike in his first big-league season.
Just days ago, he maintained he wasn’t looking at dropping Schwarber in the order.
"“I know he hasn’t gotten hits, but I’ve liked his at-bats recently,” Maddon said. “There’s a tremendous difference between what Jason went through last year and what he’s gone through. Last year, Jason was more based on the mechanics of his swing. Right now, with Kyle, it’s more the mental process, because his swing physically is really good, so I see it as two different problems to consider."
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Ben Zobrist, who has been leading off for the better part of the last three weeks, drops down to the cleanup spot. Ahead of him, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo hold down their semi-regular spots in the lineup.
Chicago (25-27) enters the showdown with the Cardinals mired in an offensive ice age. Losers of seven of their last 10, the Cubs still sit just three games out of first.
Meanwhile, St. Louis (26-25) have won two-straight and bring fan favorite outfielder Dexter Fowler back to Wrigley for the first time as a Cardinal.
At this point, the Cubs have nothing to lose by changing up the order. The offense has been stagnant for a full week now, and Schwarber needs a breather. Chicago has a chance to re-set the story this weekend. And that opportunity starts – and ends – with the offense finding its footing.
Lackey (4-5, 5.18 ERA) takes the ball in Friday afternoon’s matinee. Resurgent right-hander Lance Lynn (4-3, 2.93) opposes him for the Cardinals.