Chicago Cubs lineup: Bryant does not return, but best starting hitter of all time makes an appearance

(UPDATE: Bryant comes out with minor left elbow issue – post here).

The Cubs won last night … barely. And they do it again today with another 5:40 start against the Reds. This is how David Ross will line them up with right-hander Tyler Mahle on the mound.

Chicago Cubs Lineup:

1. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
2. Victor Caratini, C
3. Javy Baez, SS
4. Kyle Schwarber, LF
5. Ian Happ, CF
6. Jason Heyward, RF
7. David Bote, 3B
8. Jason Kipnis, DH
9. Nico Hoerner, 2B

Last night, Kris Bryant was removed from the lineup at the end of the game against the Reds and there was no real discussion or explanation of the decision. Given his absence from the lineup today, you start to worry. I’m not going to speculate without any information, but just take note and keep an eye out for any other news (UPDATE: Not a big deal, just a few regular bumps and bruises, if you believe in the Cubs). David Bote is covering third base for Bryant tonight.

With Bryant out of order, Anthony Rizzo will once again take on the mantle of the best starting hitter of all time, while playing at first base. Victor Caratini, behind the plate tonight, hit second, keeping Baez / Schwarber halfway.

As for the rest of the group, I think the left / right divisions can explain a lot:

Mahle Career L / R Splits:

v. LHH: .290 / .384 / .587 (.390 wOBA)
v. RHH: ./.257/.302/.384 (.294 wOBA)

Lefties have almost a .100 wOBA point lead against Mahle than righties, including 30 home runs in just 116.0 innings compared to 17 HR for righties in 145.2 innings. It goes without saying that having Jason Kipnis there as a designated hitter (with a free night for Willson Contreras) makes perfect sense. Like returning Ian Happ, Jason Heyward and Caratini to the starting lineup, everyone can hit from the left side of the plate. In total, the only rights Mahle will face are Javy Báez, David Bote and Nico Hoerner.

That said, Heyward is 1-13 against Mahle for his career, and while that “1” was a home run, I just don’t love how he’s seen the plate. By contrast, Báez (4-10, HR, BB), Schwarber (4-10, HR, 2BB, 5Ks) and Almora (3-8, HR) have had some success.

As usual, we’ll get your full Pre-Gamin post closer to game time (5:40 CT).