Chicago Cubs: Projecting the 2021 Opening Day lineup

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Heyward and Hoerner, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Heyward and Hoerner, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Questions marks will come from the bottom of the order

If any confusion or questions do exist in terms of projecting an Opening Day lineup in 2021, the consternation will be somewhere in the bottom of the lineup. With two left-handed hitting outfielders who struggle against southpaws and a still-up-in-the-air second base spot to fill, there could be a bit of adaptation and flexibility required down at the bottom of the order.

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Against most pitchers, you’re most definitely going to see the corner outfield positions filled by incumbent Jason Heyward in right field and newcomer Pederson in left. They’ve both experienced periods of great success at the plate while in the big leagues, while also struggling mightily through extended slumps and ongoing issues dealing with left-handed hurlers. So, while you’re going to see them most of the time, there is the possibility you could see a right-handed bat in either field against a tough lefty at times.

At second base, there seems to be some hesitancy to just bring Nico Hoerner as the starter. Many have called for him to start the year in the minors and hone his approach and overall hitting against lesser competition. I, for one, am not in that camp. First of all, he’s the best defensive option we have there, and also the best option at shortstop should Baez need a game or a few innings off.

Secondly, I feel way too much was made of his struggles in 2020 when he consistently hit line drives, worked tough at bats, and played great defense as a 23-year-old who had never even played a full season of Double or Triple-A ball. So, while the starter could be David Bote or Ildemaro Vargas on Opening Day, Hoerner would be my pick.