Chicago Cubs Lineup (9/25/21): Contreras Leads Off, Bote at 2B, Lester Starting for Cardinals

Update: Nico Hoerner has been scratched due to general soreness, which probably angers Kyle Farnsworth, and has been replaced by Sergio Alcántara.

Perhaps the best thing about this afternoon is that no matter what happens, Jon Lester can’t win his 200th game against the Cubs as a member of the Cardinals. What a weird freaking set of circumstances this year has presented. After they couldn’t come up with $5 million to bring the lefty back, the Cubs scraped together enough cash for Jake Arrieta. Now Arrieta has been DFA’d twice in the space of 6 weeks or so and Lester has been great over the last month.

The 37-year-old is younger than two other members of the Cards rotation, one of whom — J.A. Happ — pitched yesterday while the other — Adam Wainwright — is having what might be the best season of his career. What did Cubs fans do to deserve this fresh hell? Lester hasn’t given up more than two earned runs in any of his last six starts and he’s allowed only 10 total runs in that time.

His 5.69 FIP tells us there’s more than a little luck involved there, a notion reinforced by a .182 BABIP against in spite of a mere 38.1% groundball rate. But the thing is, Lester knows how to pitch and he’s still more than good enough to beat inexperienced hitters.

His repertoire hasn’t changed much from his time in Chicago, though he’s throwing the changeup a lot more than before and will even go to it upwards of 30% from time to time. These Cubs don’t know him well as an opponent, so it’ll be interesting to see whether and how they can attack him after being swept in yesterday’s doubleheader.

Willson Contreras will lead off at catcher, followed by Frank Schwindel, who is probably going to hit three doubles this afternoon. Ian Happ is in right, Patrick Wisdom is in left, Matt Duffy is at third, and some guy named David Bote is at second. I know it’s petty, low-hanging fruit, but remember when people wanted him to be the everyday third baseman over Bryant?

Trayce Thompson is in center and Nico Hoerner is at short to round things out. This really does feel like the sort of lineup you’d see prior to the start of the season, not in late September.

Adrian Sampson is on the mound looking to extend a run of solid appearances on the season, the most recent of which came as a bulk starter in a planned piggyback with Keegan Thompson. Sampson probably isn’t going to miss many bats, but he won’t hurt himself with walks and he gets a lot of grounders. That might be enough to slow down a Cardinals team that is as hot as any the Cubs have ever seen, though I’m not sure anyone can stop their offensive onslaught right now.

First pitch is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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