CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon is lauded for his willingess to be flexible. As part of that, Maddon has often tinkered with lineups. He is doing so again in the playoffs.
Maddon filled out his third different lineup in as many games Monday. Washington will send Max Scherzer to the mound, a pitcher that Maddon on Sunday called “oppressively difficult” against right-handed hitters, which prompted Maddon to insert an extra left-handed hitter into his Game 3 lineup. This season, right-handed hitters hit .136 against Scherzer. Lefties hit .215. Lefties also hit 16 of the 22 home runs Scherzer allowed. The lineup change put Cubs defensive magician Javier Baez on the bench instead of at second base.
“I don’t like to play the game without Javy on the field,” Maddons said. “I said that from the first time I saw him in Spring Training in 2015. I said, ‘Man, we’re a better team when he’s on the field,’ and I do, I love having him out there.
“For right now, if we can build some offense and grab a lead and switch to the defense in the latter part of the game, that’s what we’re going to try to do today.”
Nationals manager Dusty Baker is using the same lineup that he used to close the regular season and then was put onto the field in Games 1 and 2, which prompts fair questions.
Left-handed Jose Quintana will start Monday afternoon for the Cubs. He’s faced only three of the Nationals on the 25-man postseason roster. One of those is Howie Kendrick, who was 5-for-10 against Quintana when both were in the American League. Kendrick could be a straight swap for Jayson Werth, who is playing left field and hitting sixth. Instead, Baker is keeping Werth in the lineup and Kendrick on the bench to start the game.
“You know, you just can’t change your whole lineup,” Baker said. “We’ve got scouting reports, there’s nothing like the naked eye seeing a guy. I think the advantage most of the time goes to the pitcher if you haven’t seen him. So we’re relying on some of the guys who might have played with him and some of the guys who played against him.”
Kendrick primarily hit second when he played this season. He hit sixth just 19 times. But, in this situation, he could be a clean swap for Werth both in position and in the batting order, disrupting little. Werth, at least, is a right-handed batter. Quintana has heavy left-right splits. Of the 23 homers he allowed, 22 were hit by right-handed batters.
The lineups for a 4:08 p.m. first pitch:
Jay (L) CF
Rizzo (L) 1B
Zobrist (L) 2B
Schwarber (L) LF
Heyward (L) RF
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