Chicago Cubs Lineup (Updated): Javy at SS, Bryant in RF, Bote at 3B, Lester Pitching

Update: Ben Zobrist has been scratched due to neck stiffness, so the Cubs have shuffled things around. Kris Bryant slides over to right and up to cleanup spot, Kyle Schwarber bats fifth, David Bote moves up to sixth, and Ian Happ takes over in center in the nine hole.

Whoo, doggies, this is a fun one. Daniel Murphy leads off at second base, Javy Baez is at short, Anthony Rizzo is at first, and Ben Zobrist is in right. Kris Bryant makes like his buddy Bryce Harper and plays center, Kyle Schwarber is in left, Willson Contreras is catching, and David Bote is at third.

I’m not sure that’s what you’d like to see in terms of a defensive alignment, but maybe the Cubs can just score a bunch of runs. And I know Joe Maddon needs Contreras behind the plate to help control the running game, but dude really looks like he needs a break.

Quick note: The first time Kris Bryant ever played center at the MLB level was April 22, 2015 in Pittsburgh. It was only his sixth game and he was shifted out there late to accommodate some other changes, and the main reason I remember it is because I watched it happen next to the man he had replaced as the starting third baseman.

Jon Lester is on the mound for the 29th time and he’s just looking to continue the strong stretch that has followed his drubbing at the hands of the Nats just under a month ago. The lefty’s location was wonky in that one and he was stubbornly sticking with pitches that just weren’t working. His renewed focus and the Nationals’ lack of verve should yield better results for Big Jon this time.

Washington will counter with Joe Ross, who’s making his first start in over a year after Tommy John surgery in 2017. The 25-year-old righty has gotten solid results over parts of three seasons, but he’s never remained healthy enough to find a real groove. Given the situation, it’s hard to predict what or how he’ll throw tonight.

Ross, the younger brother of Cardinals pitcher Tyson, used to boast a mid-90’s sinker with an excellent slider and a very firm change that topped out around 88 mph. His velocity was down significantly prior to surgery last year, so it’ll be interesting to see how he responds now that he’s all patched up.

Lefties have traditionally raked against Ross, to the tune of a .300/.367/.485 slash and and .364 wOBA, though, things could be different for him now. Regardless of what and how he throws, there’s no reason for the Cubs not to come out swinging in this one. Unless, you know, Ross is really wild and it makes sense to walk a lot.

First pitch from DC is at 6:05pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago and 670 The Score.

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