Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has announced his lineup for tonight’s Wild Card matchup against the Chicago Cubs and it comes with a big surprise towards the end.
Batting eight and starting at first base will not be Pedro Alvarez, who played 124 games at first the Pirates this season, but utilityman Sean Rodriguez. Rodriguez saw extensive action as a defensive replacement, but started only 12 games at first base on the year.
On the season, Alvarez hit .243/.318./.469 with 27 home runs and 77 RBIs. In comparison, Rodriguez had a .246/.281/.362 triple slash line, with four home runs and 17 RBIs.
It’s possible that, with Rodriguez so far down in the batting order, Alvarez will be brought in as a pinch hitter early in the game.
Starting at third base and hitting second will be Josh Harrison. Harrison has played all over the diamond since returning from injury to find his third base spot occupied by Aramis Ramirez, who came over from Milwaukee in a trade. Ramirez will be available off the bench.
The rest of the Pirates lineup appears to have players in their normal spots. Gregory Polanco, Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte will start in their usual outfield positions and hit first, third and fourth, respectively.
Francisco Cervelli, who has only caught starting pitcher Gerrit Cole a handful of times, will catch and hit fifth. Backup catcher Chris Stewart served as Cole’s personal catcher for most of the season.
Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer will make up the middle infield duo and bat sixth and seventh.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon will go with his club’s regular lineup (right). At times, he has tinkered with his starting pitcher batting eighth, but Jake Arrietta will man the nine spot tonight.
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