Cubs put both Bryant, Schwarber in outfield; Alvarez not in for Bucs
By Carrie Muskat and Adam Berry
The lineups for tonight's game between the Cubs and Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh have been announced.
The National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET (TBS).
Bryant in left, Schwarber in right for Cubs
The Cubs will have rookies at the corner outfield spots as Kris Bryant starts in left field and Kyle Schwarber will be in right.
Tommy La Stella, who has seen limited playing time because of injuries, will start at third base and bat fifth. He batted fifth in three games this season, but has delivered with runners on base. La Stella is batting .222 with nobody on base compared to .333 with runners in scoring position. The left-handed hitter made six starts at third base this season for the Cubs.
Addison Russell will start at shortstop, raising the number of Cubs rookie position players to appear in the postseason to 27. In 2008, rookies Kosuke Fukudome and Geovany Soto both played for the Cubs.
Bryant has started 10 games in the outfield, including four in left, one in center and five in right. His only start in center was at PNC Park on April 23. In a doubleheader on Sept. 15, Bryant started the first game at third and was in right field for the second game.
Schwarber has started 38 games in the outfield, primarily in left (36 games).
Jake Arrieta will bat ninth, which actually is unusual for the Cubs. Chicago pitchers have batted ninth just 12 times during the regular season as manager Joe Maddon has instead inserted that day's starter into the No. 8 spot.
Maddon has moved players around the past 10 days in preparation for the postseason.
"I love the fact that we're so versatile," Maddon said Tuesday. "I love that young players are not stuck in one position, and if you move them, all of a sudden they freak out about it or it's going to hurt them in arbitration or whatever years from now because they don't have one position.
"Our guys don't think that way and I love it," he said. "All of this has been experimentation waiting to get to this moment."
"Fall baseball, it's all about pitching and defense for me," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We're putting our best pitcher on the mound, [we] want to put our best defensive team behind him and find a way to scratch out one more run than the other team."
A natural middle infielder, Rodriguez is Pittsburgh's best defensive first baseman, but he hit just .246 with a .642 OPS this season. Alvarez led the Pirates with 27 home runs, but he committed 23 errors in 124 games at first base, the kind of costly mistakes the Bucs can't afford in what is expected to be a pitchers' duel between Cole and Arrieta.
Cole's throwaway remark on Tuesday that Alvarez "tends to hit a lot of home runs when I pitch" is actually borne out by the facts.
Alvarez homered in each of Cole's first three big league starts, in June 2013, and has totaled 18 long balls in the right-hander's 73 regular-season starts, plus another in Game 2 of the 2013 NL Division Series. Seven of Alvarez's 27 homers this season came behind Cole, who overall is 12-3 when Alvarez goes deep for him.
"Pedro's a big bat. We know at some point tonight he's going to be ready to be called upon," third baseman Josh Harrison said. "But that's what makes our team so good, is we've got a guy like Sean coming in, and we've got full faith in him as well."
As expected, Harrison will be starting at third base. A dynamic defender at multiple positions, Harrison was the Bucs' hottest hitter down the stretch, batting .378 with a .952 OPS in 22 games since Sept. 10.