Cubs Opening Day: Projecting the starting lineup for Thursday’s game

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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No.4 Willson Contreras-C

Having appeared in all but three games last summer Willson Contreras slashed career lows with a line of .243/.356/.407 along with seven home runs and 26 RBI in 57 games. When he’s locked in Contreras is arguably the league’s best catcher in the league on both sides of the ball. It’s been a solid spring camp for Contreras (.317/.440/.756), and the Cubs will be counting on their catcher to drive in plenty of runs this season. Contreras has a career batting average of .280 with runners in scoring position.

No.5 Joc Pederson-LF

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I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical when the Cubs brought in Joc Pederson to replace Kyle Schwarber in left field. Being a fan, I would have rather gone with Schwarber as the two are similar in their offensive approach. From what we’ve seen so far this spring, I will gladly take back my previous thoughts. Pederson has arguably been the hottest hitter in spring training, launching eight home runs with 20 RBI to go with a .378/.431/1.000 slash line. I’m sure the Cubs expected Pederson to perform as well as he has so far, but he has established himself as an X-factor in the middle of this lineup.

No.6 Javier Baez-SS

Having Javier Baez batting sixth in the order hopefully means everyone else above him is performing well. If Baez is productive and still in this spot, that shows how deep this lineup can be. Whether it was a lack of in-game video, no fans, or any other factors in the shortened season, Baez was one of the many Cubs who took a step back in 2020.

His line of .203/.238/.360 with eight home runs and 24 RBI in 59 games was far from his previous two All-Star seasons in 2018-2019. Baez has struggled this spring (.184/.231/.437), but there have been occasions where he’s used the whole field as a hitter rather than an all or nothing approach. That’s when Baez has been as his best, and the Cubs will need more of it in 2021.