Offensive issues have plagued the Cubs all season and Joe Maddon's solution to the problem might already be in the clubhouse.
For now, at least.
Maddon wrote out the Cubs' lineup for the second straight day with Jon Jay atop the order, this time against Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom:
Both Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ — who have combined to fill the role of leadoff hitter for much of the season — remain on the bench. It's Schwarber's second straight day off and Happ's third.
Jay ignited an immediate — and much-needed — rally for the Cubs in the first inning Sunday, leading off with a single and scoring two batters later on Anthony Rizzo's double. Jay later added a double and is hitting .298 with a .383 on-base percentage on the season.
The 32-year-old veteran has plenty of experience leading off dating back to his days with the St. Louis Cardinals, posting a .280 average and .342 OBP in 179 starts at that spot.
The Cubs enter the series with the Mets 31-31 and despite a dip in pitching and defense compared to a year ago, Maddon pointed to the team's inconsistent offense as the major issue this season.
The leadoff spot is a huge reason why.
Out of 30 MLB teams, Cubs leadoff hitters rank 24th in runs scored (34), seven below the league average. That's a far cry from 2016 (ranked fifth) and 2015 (third) when Dexter Fowler was the team's primary tablesetter.
The 2017 Cubs rank 28th with a .212 average out of the top spot, 38 points below the NL average (.260). They come in at 24th with a .311 OBP.
Jay may be the best fit for the leadoff position on the Cubs' current 25-man roster, but he's also probably only a short-term solution. It's hard to envision a scenario in which he continually steals starts away from Happ and/or Schwarber if both young hitters remain in the big leagues.
Schwarber is still only hitting .171 on the season, but he hit a couple big homers on the Cubs' recent homestand and is walking at an elite rate (13.7 percent of the time).
Happ is currently mired in an 0-for-12 slump with six strikeouts in that span. His average is down to .207 and OPS at .784 after a blazing-hot start to his big-league career.
Ben Zobrist would be another potential leadoff option, but Maddon likes him providing protection to Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo (which Zobrist did to perfection Sunday with a three-run homer in the first inning).
Maddon also likes employing Jay as a "sixth man," coming off the bench at the most opportune time in the game.
But for right now, at least, it appears Jay's biggest impact on the Cubs is taking his professional at-bats out of the leadoff spot.