Maddon: Subtle lineup changes possible in LA

Maddon: Subtle lineup changes possible in LA

LOS ANGELES -- Joe Maddon said Monday he's considering some lineup changes in hopes of getting his offense going after the Cubs batted .177 in the first two games of the National League Championship Series. The Cubs and Dodgers are tied at one win apiece in the best-of-seven series, which resumes with Game 3 tonight at Dodger Stadium.

"I have considered different thoughts," Maddon said prior to the Cubs' workout Monday. "Like I said, when you get to this point, you've got five games left to really make it right, as opposed to 75 to make it right. There is a difference with that. There are certain things you'd do in the middle of the season in order to move something along, not just during the playoffs."

NLCS Game 3: tonight at 8 ET/7 CT on FS1

The Cubs did have to deal with Clayton Kershaw in Game 2 on Sunday, but so far, Anthony Rizzo is 0-for-8, Kris Bryant 2-for-8 and Ben Zobrist 1-for-6 in the two NLCS games. Rizzo is 1-for-23 in six postseason games overall.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 15 CHC 8, LAD 4 video
Gm 2 Oct. 16 LAD 1, CHC 0 video
Gm 3 Oct. 18 LAD 6, CHC 0 video
Gm 4 Oct. 19 CHC 10, LAD 2 video
Gm 5 Oct. 20 CHC 8, LAD 4 video
Gm 6 Oct. 22 CHC 5, LAD 0 video

Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill will start Game 3, and one option Maddon has is inserting right-handed-hitting Jorge Soler in the lineup. The Cubs did bat .267 against left-handers this season, second best in the NL.

Zobrist wouldn't be surprised if Maddon made a few tweaks.

"Joe changes the lineup all the time during the season, so if he changes it now in the postseason, it shouldn't be any different to us," Zobrist said. "It's actually more different if nothing changes. That's the way things have operated with our team."

Zobrist also cautioned against panic about the lack of offense, considering how many games the Cubs have played and who they've faced. Besides Kershaw, they had to deal with the Giants' Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto in the NL Division Series.

"It's such a small sample size now, you don't want to look at the number," Zobrist said. "All that matters is our wins and losses. For guys who feel like maybe they're scuffling a little bit, turn the page. Right now. If you're thinking about yesterday, it's already passed you by. We don't care about the stats or any numbers, we just care about the wins and losses."

Addison Russell, who is 1-for-22 in the six postseason games, got a little private lesson from Maddon after batting practice on Monday.

Russell on offense in Game 2

"He was saying, 'Make sure you finish your swing,'" Russell said. "He doesn't tell me how to swing a bat per se, but he says, I'm strongest whenever I finish my swing and finish strong.

"It's an easy adjustment, it's something I can do the first time they tell me. That's a good thing to have -- people to tell you the honest truth about what they're seeing."

The majority of the Cubs' RBIs in the postseason have come from the pitchers. Maddon would like to see the middle of the lineup contribute more. Don't expect a complete overhaul. After all, the Cubs did win 103 games this year.

"There's only so much you can possibly do when it comes to manipulating your lineup," Maddon said. "I mean, these are the guys that got you here. These are your guys. We've got a bunch of All-Stars out there. So some guys are struggling, and you're right, a part of it, I think, is due to the fact that we've seen Bumgarner, [Jeff] Samardzija, [Matt Moore] and Cueto. That's not bad. And then we saw Kershaw [on Sunday] night. There's a lot of Cy Young candidates among that group.

Hill vs. Arrieta: NLCS Game 3

"We haven't hit to our capabilities. However, we won a series against a really good October-tested team [the Giants], and now we're 1-1 against a very good team coming back here. You try to balance it out. You look at the pitching for the next two days. There are different things we possibly can do. There is no question about that. But when you talk about doing something differently, that's just going to be a small percentage, a smidgen of the whole thing. You just don't make wholesale changes."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.