Joe Maddon is with a new team, but he’s still up to his old tricks.
Chicago’s new manager made his debut Sunday night when the Cubs took on the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field to kick off the 2015 MLB season.
Newly acquired pitcher Jon Lester got the start on the mound, which came as no surprise. Yet Maddon didn’t go entirely with convention, instead employing a rather bold strategy, putting Lester eighth in the batting order.
For context, Lester entered Sunday with 36 at-bats in his MLB career. He had yet to record a hit and struck out 22 times. Usually you want a guy like that batting last in your order, especially since it was Lester’s first time ever playing for a National League team.
Perhaps Maddon wanted to keep Lester and his battery mate together, as former Boston Red Sox catcher David Ross batted seventh ahead of the lefty ace.
That left the undesirable task of batting behind a hitless pitcher to second baseman Tommy La Stella, who rounded out the Cubs’ order in the nine hole. La Stella hit just .251 in his rookie year with the Atlanta Braves last season, but then again, that’s still .251 better than Lester’s career batting average.
Unsurprisingly, the bump up the order didn’t awaken Lester’s bat. The 31-year-old struck out to strand a runner on third in his only plate appearance of the night, and the Cubs failed to score a run in a 3-0 loss.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images