Chicago Cubs: Lineup changes as Cubs hope to extend series

With the World Series moving to Cleveland, the Chicago Cubs slot a new batting order in hopes to force Game 7.

Excitement and anxiety are high for Chicago Cubs fans before Game 6 of the World Series tonight. On the verge of elimination, the team will need to win tonight to force a Game 7. In order to win, the offense must show up behind the pitching of Jake Arrieta. And Manager Joe Maddon is hoping a new line-up will do just that.

As shown above, Anthony Rizzo mentioned during a radio interview with ESPN 1000 that he would bat fourth tonight. Kyle Schwarber is slotted second in the order, moving Kris Bryant to third and Ben Zobrist to fifth. The middle of the order could prove dangerous versus Josh Tomlin and the Cleveland Indians’ bullpen.

How does this help?

Moving Schwarber to second in the order means two things. First, Schwarber’s ability to make contact allows him to move runners, such as Dexter Fowler, over or drive them in. Furthermore, if he gets on base with another runner, Bryant will see pitches closer to the zone. Bryant’s ability to drive the ball to all fields could lead to more runs.

Secondly, because the bottom of the order as struggled, Zobrist batting fifth extends the top of the order further, putting more stress on pitchers. Zobrist’s ability to put together quality at-bats is crucial. Pitchers are then forced to work more under stress. With Schwarber batting second and Zobrist fifth, the bottom of the order should relax more, not feeling pressured to go for the knockout punch. The Chicago Cubs were most successful when batters took pitches, not swinging at balls out of the zone.

The problem is Bryant batted second most of the season; however, the lack of offensive rhythm needs to be addressed. This is a bold strategy. Let’s see how it works out for them.

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