Cubs

Joe Maddon explains why Jason Heyward is still out of Cubs World Series lineup

Joe Maddon explains why Jason Heyward is still out of Cubs World Series lineup

CLEVRLAND - As the Cubs try to rebound from a Game 1 loss, Jason Heyward is still on the bench.

The Cubs released their lineup for Game 2 of the World Series and Jorge Soler is in right field after Chris Coghlan started Game 1.

Soler is hitting eighth and bumps Addison Russell to ninth against Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer.

Joe Maddon also changed things up behind the plate with Willson Contreras catching Jake Arrieta instead of veteran Miguel Montero, who typically works with Arrieta.

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Maddon admitted Tuesday he may roll with Contreras in an effort to slow down the Indians run game in what has now become close to a must-win game for the Cubs.

Part of the decision to roll with a pair of right-handed hitters is based on Bauer's splits - he generally is tougher against left-handed hitters.

Maddon said he was going to insert Heyward for defense later on in Game 1 if the Cubs got a lead, but then threw Albert Almora Jr. in right field after pinch-hitting for Coghlan. There was also an opportunity to pinch-run Heyward for Schwarber and that did not come to fruition, either.

Maddon met with Heyward before Game 1 to discuss the situation, as Heyward has now not seen the starting lineup the last three games.

“I covered everything,” Maddon said. “Of course, listen, he wants to be playing. There’s no doubt he does. And I don’t blame him whatsoever. But we had a good exchange of thoughts. He didn’t leave angry. It was just a very open conversation and he’s a very good baseball player and he’s a big part of our future.

"But for right now, in a small moment like this, based on what’s been going on…if we didn’t have other options, we probably would not do it. But we have other options and other guys that have done well, too.”

Here is the complete lineup behind Arrieta:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Ben Zobrist - LF
5. Kyle Schwarber - DH
6. Javy Baez - 2B
7. Willson Contreras - C
8. Jorge Soler - RF
9. Addison Russell - SS

The Cubs set an MLB postseason record with six starters age 24 or younger (Bryant, Schwarber, Baez, Contreras, Soler and Russell).

The lineup looks a lot different with Schwarber back in it. He was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in Game 1.

The Cubs couldn't score against Corey Kluber and the Indians bullpen in Game 1 and Maddon will once again place a premium on offense early on in Game 2.

Soler is 0-for-8 this postseason with a pair of walks. Heyward is 2-for-28 with eight strikouts in 10 postseason contests.

Here is the way the Indians will line up for Game 2:

1. Carlos Santana - DH
2. Jason Kipnis - 2B
3. Francisco Lindor - SS
4. Mike Napoli - 1B
5. Jose Ramirez - 3B
6. Lonnie Chisenhall - RF
7. Coco Crisp - LF
8. Tyler Naquin - CF
9. Roberto Perez - C
Trevor Bauer - P

Bauer only threw 21 pitches his last time out in the American League Championship Series, failing to even get out of the first inning after his stitches popped on his pinky finger of his pitching hand, which he hurt in a drone accident.

Bauer has a 5.06 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 5.1 postseason innings this year.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: The bullpen falters twice. Is it time to call Craig Kimbrel?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: The bullpen falters twice. Is it time to call Craig Kimbrel?

Mark Schanowski, Mark Carman and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel.

0:00- The Cubs take 2 out of 3 from the D'Backs thanks to a surprisingly solid start from Tyler Chatwood. Should the Cubs trust him more than they trust Yu Darvish? Meanwhile, the bullpen falters twice. Is it time to call Craig Kimbrel?

12:00- The guys preview the huge series against the Dodgers at Wrigley.

16:00- The White Sox lose 2 of 3 in Detroit but Kap is still excited about the future.

20:00- The NBA Eastern Conference playoffs are becoming a fight. So who will win the East? And can anybody even threaten the Warriors?

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Cubs pitching coming through with Jon Lester injured

Cubs pitching coming through with Jon Lester injured

After starting the season 2-7 on the road, two weeks without Jon Lester looked like a possible death sentence for the Cubs. Instead, it now looks like a turning point.

Somebody needed to step up. Anybody. Bullpen or rotation, but preferably both. Well, that is exactly what happened and the Cubs are quickly back to the .500 mark at 10-10.

Jose Quintana was the first to accept the challenge, dominating the surprising Pirates with the eleven strikeouts and then seven shutout innings against the lowly Marlins in his next outing. He pitched "like a Porcshe" while attacking batters in both games with precision handling and it was contagious. Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood followed his lead while the bullpen turned around their production, too.

Our stats guru, Chris Kamka, offered up these facts to show the startling improvements.

In the first nine games, the Cubs' team ERA, starter ERA and reliever ERA all ranked 29th or worse in MLB. It's a team game, but it was obvious which part of the team was struggling. Over the last 11 games, everything has changed. Since that opening road trip from Hell, the Cubs have led the majors in all three categories. The relievers have posted a 1.85 ERA and the starters are at a blistering 1.66 ERA with six quality starts since Lester went on the injured list. 

Yes, it's a small sample size in a 162 game season. However, if we're going to overreact to a disastrous start, it's only fair to also hyperbolize this spectacular stretch. We asked for somebody to step-up. The Cubs' pitching staff did just that.    

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