Photos of Joe Maddon, the 2015 NL Manager of the Year.

After reading some projections from the team’s analytics department, Cubs manager Joe Maddon felt even better about the potential of the lineup with Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot and the starting pitcher batting eighth.

"If that number is right, I’ll take it," Maddon said Sunday night.

Maddon didn’t reveal the number, but he did say the 2017 lineup was projected to score more runs per game than last season’s average, which was 4.98.

That might seem like an ambitious goal, considering the Cubs will be without last season’s leadoff hitter, Dexter Fowler, now with the Cardinals, who scored 84 runs and led all leadoff batters with a .393 on-base percentage.

But Maddon is banking on a full season from Schwarber, who missed the final 159 games because of torn ligaments in his left knee, the maturity of No. 5 hitter Addison Russell, a rebound season from Jason Heyward and a full season from catcher Willson Contreras.

"I don’t remember that (projected) number being on last year’s lineup," Maddon said. "They gave me a sheet with different scenarios. It was pretty heavy. It was good."

When asked if that number exceeded more than five runs per game, Maddon smiled and said, "I don’t know. It’s a good number."

Maddon reiterated he would tinker with the lineup when Schwarber doesn’t start against a left-handed pitcher or needs to rest his knee. That would result in the starting pitcher batting in the ninth spot.

The findings were part of an annual project Maddon gives to the analytics department dating to his days with the Rays. Maddon felt strongly about batting Schwarber leadoff and dropping Fowler to second for the final two months of the 2015 season but was talked out of it by his data people, who were proved right when Fowler finished strong.

"I’m open to that stuff," Maddon said. "Everyone should have his own geek."

Extra innings: Reliever Hector Rondon said he felt fine after pitching for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, where he surrendered game-tying and game-winning home runs to the United States. "He was very accountable about the other night," Maddon said. "He knows he can fix it." … Test results on the right shoulder of outfielder Eloy Jimenez are expected to be revealed Monday. … Bench coach Dave Martinez will manage the Cubs when they travel to Las Vegas for two games next weekend.

This article was sourced from http://nourishingnews.org