Cubs, Nationals set lineups for NLDS Game 1

The Cubs released Joe Maddon's lineup for Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals Friday night.

The 25-man roster was released earlier on Friday and here's how the Cubs will line up behind Kyle Hendricks as they get set for a showdown with Stephen Strasburg:

1. Ben Zobrist - RF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Willson Contreras - C
5. Kyle Schwarber - LF
6. Addison Russell - SS
7. Jason Heyward - CF
8. Javy Baez - 2B
9. Kyle Hendricks - P

Of course, the Bryant-Rizzo-Contreras heart of the order was easy to predict. But the rest of the lineup was up for grabs and it makes sense for Maddon to roll with Russell-Baez manning the middle of the infield.

Heyward playing center is not something Cubs fans have seen much of this season, as he's started just 12 games there and played 89.1 innings at the most demanding outfield postion.

But his presence in center allows the Cubs to get Zobrist in the leadoff spot. Zobrist said he feels the best he's felt all year physically and the reigning World Series MVP is aiming to again make an impact in October.

Schwarber has made it an easy choice to insert him into the lineup, hitting .288 with a .954 OPS, 6 homers and 11 RBI in September. He didn't start or play much during some pivotal games against the Brewers or Cardinals down the stretch, but Schwarber gets his chance now to build on his "Mr. October" legacy.

Here's how Dusty Baker will line the Nationals up against Hendricks:

1. Trea Turner - SS
2. Bryce Harper - RF
3. Anthony Rendon - 3B
4. Daniel Murphy - 2B
5. Ryan Zimmerman - 1B
6. Jayson Werth - LF
7. Matt Wieters - C
8. Michael A. Taylor - CF
9. Stephen Strasburg - P

It appears Baker has realized the error of his ways and has Rendon hitting in the first inning. The NL MVP candidate (.301 average, .937 OPS) spent most of the year hitting lower in the lineup, spending 73 games in the 6-hole and 30 games hitting fifth. He made just nine starts in the No. 2 spot, 15 starts in the 3-hole and 14 starts hitting cleanup.

That first inning for Hendricks will be no picnic with Turner, Harper and Rendon and if anybody gets on, you're pitching to noted Cub Killer Murphy with a runner on base.

The puzzling move here is Baker and the Nationals' decision to go with Werth in the starting lineup. The grizzled veteran is an emotional leader for this team, but he hit just .223 with a .691 OPS against right-handed pitching in 2017, with only 15 extra-base hits in 206 at-bats. 

Adam Lind, meanwhile, has drawn a lot of starts against right-handed pitching for Washington this season and for good reason — he hit .303 with an .898 OPS against righties, crushing 14 homers and 52 RBI in only 238 at-bats.

Hendricks is also tough on righties, holding them to a .639 OPS compared to a .706 mark against lefties.