By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) The Cubs’ lineup for Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night is reflective of their need for offensive thrust and the wind-blowing-out conditions at Wrigley Field.
Despite going 0-of-7 this postseason, Jorge Soler will start in right field and bat sixth against Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin. Soler gets the nod in place of Jason Heyward, who’s been benched on the season’s biggest stage after season-long hitting struggles.
Tomlin is 2-0 with a 2.53 in two postseason starts this season. The only Cubs regular to have faced Tomlin is Ben Zobrist, who’s 2-of-19 in his career against him.
“He pitches backwards,” a big league scout has works the AL Central said. “He has a decent fastball, but he uses the off-speed stuff to set you up for the fastball. He is a good fielder and will not be an automatic out with the bat. He was a good shortstop in college. He is similar to (Cubs starter) Kyle Hendricks. He does throw harder, but they are a very good matchup. Both pitchers work the lower quadrant of the strike zone. If they are up, they can get hurt.”
Tomlin has allowed a .299 batting average against righties and .229 against lefties this season. A key to this game may be Tomlin keeping the ball down. He allowed 36 home runs in 2016, more than one per start.
As expected, Willson Contreras will catch right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who’s 1-1 with a 1.65 ERA in three playoff starts. And as the Cubs made clear Thursday, slugger Kyle Schwarber will only be available as a pinch-hitter off the bench as he’s two games into his comeback from a serious knee injury.
Here’s the Cubs’ lineup:
Dexter Fowler, CF
Kris Bryant, 3B
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Ben Zobrist, LF
Willson Contreras, C
Jorge Soler, RF
Javier Baez, 2B
Addison Russell, SS
Kyle Hendricks, P
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.