The Chicago Cubs have thrown everything they can at the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it hasn’t been enough as they find themselves in a 3-0 series hole heading into Game 4 on Wednesday night.
The Cubs, who have made the NLCS three years in a row, are looking at the possibility of being swept out of two of those series after being shown the door in four games by the New York Mets in 2015.
Here is how Joe Maddon is lining up his team for the critical game.
Albert Almora – CF
Kyle Schwarber - LF
Kris Bryant – 3B
Anthony Rizzo – 1B
Willson Contreras – C
Addison Russell – SS
Javier Baez - 2B
Jon Jay - RF
Jake Arrieta – P
To be honest, there is no magic bullet when it comes to this lineup. The Cubs haven’t exactly pounded left handed pitching in these playoffs, much less in this series, and it isn’t Maddon’s style to make drastic changes when his team’s collective backs are against the wall.
Putting Almora in the lead-off spot is a nod to his absolute demolition of lefties, which continued with a loud double in a pinch-hit appearance on Tuesday night. Getting him on base ahead of Bryant and Rizzo, both of whom have hit lefties well this season, could be the Cubs’ best shot at getting momentum going.
After Contreras in the five spot, the Cubs’ odds of producing offense dwindle considerably. Heyward is all but useless against lefties, but he is still a better option in right field than Ben Zobrist at this point. Neither one of them made the lineup, however, as Maddon went with Kyle Schwarber in the two-hole instead.
Baez has been atrocious in these playoffs, going 0-for-20 thus far, but he had a .315 batting average against lefties this season, and so Maddon has to at least give him a chance to break out of his funk.
Needless to say, this thing has not gone right for the Cubs, and with how poorly their offense has performed, it’s hard to find a secret method of getting the bats going before it’s too late.