The Chicago Cubs have won their last three playoff games when facing elimination, and they’re going to have to do it again on Thursday as they take on the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS.
The Cubs had a chance to finish off the series on Wednesday at Wrigley Field, but Stephen Strasburg and Michael A. Taylor ensured that the series would head back to the nation’s capital in a 5-0 Washington victory.
Now, Joe Maddon has a tough task ahead of him, as he continues to look for a lineup that can not only break through against a tough Nationals pitching staff, but that can also keep the Cubs alive in the postseason and set up an NLCS rematch with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Here is how Maddon has attacked the problem:
1 Jon Jay - LF
2 Kris Bryant – 3B
3 Anthony Rizzo – 1B
4 Willson Contreras – C
5 Albert Almora Jr. – CF
6 Addison Russell – SS
7 Jason Heyward - RF
8 Javier Baez - 2B
9 Kyle Hendricks – P
Almora was placed in the heart of the order thanks to his excellent .342 batting average and .898 OPS against lefties this season.
Heyward has typically struggled against lefties this season, but thanks to his strong defensive presence, Maddon left him in the lineup as the Cubs expect to give up plenty of contact to the Nationals' hitters with Kyle Hendricks on the mound.