#Cubs and Lester face Padres

Jon Lester gets the start Monday night in San Diego when the Cubs open a three-game series against the Padres. Jason Heyward is back in the lineup after getting three days off vs. the Rockies. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant LF

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist 2B

Russell SS

Heyward RF

Baez 3B

Ross C

Lester P

Heyward is batting .162/.205/.229 over his last 27 games. His .313 slugging percentage on the season is the lowest mark among 156 qualified players.

The Padres will counter with Edwin Jackson, who is making $13 million this season. The Cubs are paying more than $12 million of that—all but the Major League minimum, in fact. Jackson signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Cubs that runs through this season. Chicago had released him in July 2015. The Cubs are paying just four players more than Jackson this season: Lester, Heyward, John Lackey, and Miguel Montero.

The Cubs have won each of Lester’s last six starts. Lester is 4-0 with a 2.41 ERA and .193 opponents’ batting average during that stretch.

Monday is a milestone night for Lester, who has made a regular season start in 29 of the 30 active Major League venues. This will be his first game at PETCO Park. Lester did make an appearance at PETCO in this year’s All-Star Game, in which he recorded two outs and did not give up a run.



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Some of Heyward`s apologists, including Joe Maddon, have tried to explain away Jason`s anemic numbers because he has been hitting the ball hard right at people for much of the season, but I didn`t buy that earlier in the season, and do not buy it now. I`ve seen weak contact off Heyward`s bat for much of this season. {Today is the anniversary of the Marichal/Roseboro brawl (1965). It was a shocking incident at the time, and 51 years later one hopes we never see such egregious conduct in the game ever again.}

We recall Bruce from Brazil back in March wondering if Cubs` fans should be concerned that the team was losing spring training games on a regular basis. Many posters and Carrie assured Bruce it was not important. Here`s more evidence that spring training games are meaningless. The Arizona Diamondbacks had the major league-best spring training record (24-8). Their success did not translate into the regular season because the Snakes are the most disappointing of all MLB teams. They sit in last place in the NL West with the third-worst record in all of baseball (51-73).

Hello, jhosk. A little late checking in with this. My worry now, of course, is the post season, especially that best-of-five first round. All our guys have had their all-star moments this season, including Montero, Szczur, Cahill, Wood, Soler and yes, Heyward. But what about some of those horrible meltdowns in which the whole team seemed to depend solely on our two big boppers and, earlier, Arrieta? I honestly thought we were going all the way in 2003. I must say I would not be completely surprised by an October letdown once again this year. Yes, yes, I’m still trying: “pensamento positivo,” or think positively.

I hear you, Bruce. You and I are on the same page. We have been observing the Cubs for longer than most other posters on this forum, and you and I have been flummoxed time and time again over the decades by our favorite team. This 2016 version of the Cubs has the potential to be very special, but it is going to come down to how our players perform in the playoffs, especially the pitching. Having achieved the best record in all of MLB to this point is laudatory, and that reality should propel us into the playoffs, for certain, but once in those playoffs, it will be new season. It`s guaranteed we will be competing with other formidable teams, and it`s then that the cream will rise to the top.

Aloha jhosk, you have to know that Theo and Co are hoping for the best in regard to Heyward because, EJax is one thing (50+ mil) but Jason is 180+ mil. Nothing against Jason, I did not think they needed him but was happy at the time with the Lackey and Zobrist signings. I hope Jason really turns things around the next few years and decides to opt out of his contract. By the way, I learned that Marichal and Roseboro became the best of friends, that was the silver-lining in that event. Take care now. Mahalo!

Yes, k.g. I do recall how you were not enamored with the Heyward signing. I embraced it mainly because I remembered how he performed for the Cardinals versus the Cubs in the NLDS last year. Jason and Carpenter were the two toughest outs in that lineup. Each seemed to hit line drives somewhere with most ab`s. Let`s hope Jason finds his stroke soon for everyone`s sake. Even Joe Maddon has been challenged to find alibis of late for Heyward`s woes at the dish.

Aloha jhosk- I will say, I thought it was a big “take-away” from the Cardinals that is as I am sure they thought they had Jason secured for 2017 and beyond. I am glad that he hit that dinger tonight and want him to be an active part of the team going forward. He made his first error tonight on a unique hit; I bet he thought the ball was going to stay up but spun down. And look at Russell, quietly number three on the roster with rbi’s! And Addison sprays his hits too, which I love as it keeps defenses on their toes (you cannot always anticipate where he is going to hit the ball). Jason’s problem this year is that he mainly goes one way (to the right side of the infield) and with soft contact. When he can hit too all fields again and with good contact we will see his 2015 season again. Good win tonight, I hope they can keep this up! PS: Kudo’s to Lester tonight, he kept the ball low and around the plate; good form tonight. Mahalo!

That Heyward homer tonight must have boosted his confidence, and is satisfying to the Cubs` fans. Yes, Roseboro did forgive Marichal in later years, and Juan flew to California from his home in the Dominican Republic to serve as one of the honorary pallbearers, and deliver one of the eulogies at John Roseboro`s funeral in August 2002. Marichal is still with us.

I will say this for Heyward. I was a big proponent of Darwin Barney. I felt his defense impacted the game as much as other players’ offense. Heyward, of course, plays phenomenal defense. Playing right field and having far less total chances than a 2nd baseman, probably lessens the impact of his defense, but he does have an effect on the game. With that said, I do want to see more offense from Heyward next year.

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