CHICAGO — Ian Happ seems a pretty good bet to stay in the Chicago Cubs’ lineup — at least in the near term.
The rookie outfielder, called up from Triple-A Iowa for his major league debut Saturday in St. Louis, has filled in admirably with Jason Heyward on the disabled list due to a sprained finger.
“We weren’t anticipating an extremely long-term stay,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said this week. “We’re going to read and react based on how he plays and what’s going on with the other guys with their health.”
Happ batted cleanup for the second straight night on Wednesday and went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run as the Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-5. He is batting .308 with two home runs and four RBIs through four games.
Heyward could come off the disabled list later this week, according to Cubs manager Joe Maddon, but no date is set.
The Cubs and Reds wrap up their three-game Wrigley Field series with a Thursday afternoon game as Chicago looks for a series sweep.
Cubs left-hander Jon Lester (1-2, 3.45 ERA) makes his ninth start of the season. He is 3-1 all-time against Cincinnati with a 3.72 ERA. The Reds may will recall left-hander Amir Garrett (3-2, 4.25 ERA) from the minors to make the start.
Garrett made six starts for the Reds through May 6. Then he went down to Triple-A Louisville and pitched effectively on Friday against Charlotte in a 5-2 loss.
“He threw great — two innings, six strikeouts, 29 pitches — really good fastball, slider combo, overpowering,” Reds manager Bryan Price told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “In the same respect, if he hadn’t pitched well, he’s still a guy we wanted to have back.”
Garrett will be opposing the Cubs for the first time.
Lester has five no-decisions this season. He is coming off a Saturday loss in St. Louis in which he allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits, walked four and matched a season high with nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.
One of his no-decisions came on April 21 when he allowed five runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Reds.
In 10 career starts against the Reds, Lester is 3-1 with a 3.72 ERA.
Happ, the Cubs first-round draft pick in 2015, had a pretty good big league debut, going 1-for-3 with a seventh-inning home run against the Cardinals.
In his Wrigley Field debut on Tuesday, Happ was in the cleanup spot, and he homered again. Since 2014, he is the third Cub to hit at least two homers in his first three games, joining Javier Baez and Jorge Soler.
He is also the first Cub since Carmelo Martinez in 1983 to homer in a debut road game and his first home game.
“You have to be mentally tough,” Happ said. “You have to understand if you take it pitch by pitch, you’ll have a chance at success.”
The Reds return home after the Thursday series finale. They open a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies on Friday.
The Cubs remain home for a three-game weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers.