The Start of Something Historic
While the Cubs and Cardinals have never faced each other in the playoffs, it’s far from the first time John Lackey or Jon Lester have seen the opposing lineups.
There’s really only a few changes to Joe Maddon’s lineup from Wednesday night’s Wild Card game. Kyle Schwarber will move back to left field. Chris Coghlan will man right field. David Ross gets his turn catching for Jon Lester.
Cubs Facing Lackey
By and large, it’s not been a good go for the Cubs against John Lackey. Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro have both been held down by the veteran Cardinals starter. Rizzo is just 1-for-12 against Lackey with two strike outs. Castro is 3-for-12 (a bit better) but slugging only .250.
Kris Bryant is 2/9 with five strikeouts–a rough line. Rookie Kyle Schwarber has never faced Lackey.
Some bright spots though. Austin Jackson is 5-for-16 with a .438 slugging against, while Chris Coghlan is 8-for-17 with a .529 slugging percentage–which is a clear reason he’s getting the nod to start.
Cardinals Facing Lester
Three expected Cardinals starters have decent numbers against Jon Lester. Matt Holliday (7-for-18 with a .611 SLG), Jhonny Peralta (14-for-48, .542 SLG, with three home runs) and Jason Heyward (10-for-24, .708 SLG) have all had good looks. Meanwhile, Yadier Molina (4-for-19, .263 SLG), Matt Carpenter (5-for-21, .281 SLG) and Mark Reynolds (8-for-36, .389 SLG) have all struggled.
Matt Carpenter has primarily hit first or second in Mike Mattheny’s lineups so keeping him off base (especially noting Lester’s problems in holding runners on) will be crucial.
Cardinals Lineup: Matt Carpenter 3B, Stephen Piscotty 1B, Matt Holliday LF, Jason Heyward CF, Jhonny Peralta SS, Randal Grichuk RF, Yadier Molina C, Kolten Wong 2B, John Lackey SP.