With Wacha on the mound, Cardinals hope to solve Arrieta

BY foxsports • June 22, 2016

CHICAGO -- Who's batting first?

With leadoff batter Dexter Fowler on the disabled list for at least the next two weeks, the Chicago Cubs look to utilize two different players at the top of the order.

Newly reacquired outfielder Chris Coghlan led off Tuesday in the middle contest of a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Second baseman Ben Zobrist topped the order Monday and went 3-for-5 with a run scored. Coghlan, who rejoined the Cubs as part of a June 10 trade with the Oakland Athletics, led off with a double and went on to reach twice more on walks.

"You'll probably see a lot of Chris against the righty, (Zobrist) against the lefty," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

Whoever sits atop the order in Wednesday's series finale won't be finalized until morning, if the game even is played. Early forecasts call for rain much of the day and the potential for severe conditions.

If the game is played, the Cubs will feature right-hander Jake Arrieta (11-1) going against Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha (2-7, 4.56). Arrieta is 1-0 this season against St. Louis.

Both teams open road series Thursday, so the chance for a makeup, if necessary, won't come until at least mid-August, when St. Louis returns for a four-game series, or late September, when both teams have a mutual open date before a final Wrigley Field series.

The shuffle at the top of the Cubs' lineup began with a strained right hamstring Fowler suffered in the first inning of last Saturday's 4-3 victory over the Pirates.

Until then, Fowler had led off in 61 games and was batting .290 with 35 walks, 19 doubles and 115 total bases. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday, retroactive to Sunday, and is scheduled to come off July 4.

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Maddon's tinkering at the top reflects a broader strategy also affecting lower spots, especially around cleanup batter Anthony Rizzo.

"I do (also) like the idea of (Zobrist) hitting behind Rizzo," he said. "Last night I was very comfortable with (Willson) Contreras hitting behind Rizzo with the lefty. So those are the kind of thoughts that I have. I'm into protectionism, and I do believe when you leave certain guys exposed, you're not going to benefit from their abilities on that specific night."

The Cubs also made a flurry of roster moves prior to Tuesday's game that could temporarily create a six-man rotation in the run up to next month's All-Star break.

They selected the contract of left-handed pitcher Gerardo Concepcion, who made his major league debut in Tuesday's game, and recalled right-handed pitcher Spencer Patton from Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs also placed left-handed pitcher Clayton Richard on the 15-day disabled list with a blister on his left middle finger, while right-hander Adam Warren was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

For the Cardinals, meanwhile, it was just another game Tuesday.

St. Louis made no roster moves, and the lineup from leadoff to No. 8 was identical to the one employed in Monday's 3-2 victory over the Cubs.

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