Max Scherzer\'s Dominance Has Forced Joe Maddon To Do Something He Hates With NLDS Game 3 Lineup

Max Scherzer and the Nationals, and like the skipper foreshadowed, there's a bit of a surprise." data-reactid="13">The Cubs released Joe Maddon's lineup for Game 3 of the NLDS against Max Scherzer and the Nationals, and like the skipper foreshadowed, there's a bit of a surprise.

Javy Baez is not in the lineup against the Nationals ace, with Ben Zobrist manning second base and Jon Jay playing center field as the "extra lefty" Maddon mentioned Sunday.

Here's the entire lineup behind Jose Quintana for his postseason debut:

1. Jon Jay - CF

2. Kris Bryant - 3B

3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B

4. Willson Contreras - C

5. Ben Zobrist - 2B

6. Kyle Schwarber - LF

7. Jason Heyward - RF

8. Addison Russell - SS

9. Jose Quintana - P

The impetus behind Maddon's lineup changes is Scherzer, as the likely NL Cy Young winner is absolutely dominant against right-handed hitters, holding them to a .136 average and .425 OPS while 46.9 percent of the at-bats have ended in strikeouts.

That's a tough matchup for any right-handed hitter, but especially Baez, who swings at so many pitches outside the zone even when he's locked in. Baez is 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his career against Scherzer.

Lefties, meanwhile, are hitting .215 with a .692 OPS against Scherzer and have accounted for 16 of the 22 homers he's given up this season.

Maddon explained his thought process:

"Scherzer. That's just Scherzer, just purely the fact that he's so oppressive against right-handed hitters. More than anything, that's it. 

"I don't like to play the game without Javy on the field. I said that from the first time I saw him in spring training in 2015. I said, 'Man, we're a better team when he's on the field,' and I do; I love having him out there.

"For right now, if we can build some offense and grab a lead and switch to the defense in the latter part of the game, that's what we're going to try to do today."

That's something Maddon has done quite a bit in his time in Chicago, from inserting Chris Coghlan in the three-hole in 2015 to removing Schwarber for defensive replacements on a regular basis throughout the last three years.

Maddon could've opted to go with Tommy La Stella in Monday's lineup, as the left-handed-hitter infielder is 3-for-6 lifetime against Scherzer with a double, triple and homer. That would've kept Heyward in center and Zobrist in right field, like the Cubs lined up in Game 1 against right-hander Stephen Strasburg.

Instead, Maddon went with Jay - who is 1-for-8 lifetime against Scherzer - in a move that stabilizes the starting defense a bit more than if La Stella was in the lineup. La Stella will instead be Maddon's top pinch-hitting option off the bench, able to be inserted into a premium spot in the game.

The Cubs faced Scherzer just once in 2017, when he gave up one run in six innings in a 6-1 Nationals victory on June 27 in Washington. In his career, Scherzer is 3-1 with a 2.92 ERA in six starts against the Cubs.

The question will be how long Scherzer can last in Monday's game, just 8 days after suffering a hamstring "tweak" in his last start of the regular season. Scherzer said it was just muscle weakness in the hamstring and expects to be able to throw 100 pitches if need be.

Quintana has never faced the Nationals and only three players on their roster have ever seen him - catcher Matt Wieters is 2-for-3 while veterans Howie Kendrick and Adam Lind have combined to face Quintana 21 times, collecting seven hits in those appearances.

Here's how the Nationals will line up behind Scherzer, the same order they've had in the first two games:

1. Trea Turner - SS

2. Bryce Harper - RF

3. Anthony Rendon - 3B

4. Daniel Murphy - 2B

5. Ryan Zimmerman - 1B

6. Jayson Werth - LF

7. Matt Wieters - C

8. Michael A. Taylor - CF

9. Max Scherzer

Illinois native Tanner Roark is slated to throw Game 4 for the Nationals, but he may be the long man for Washington if Scherzer is unable to go deep into the contest. 

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