Joe Maddon on Starlin Castro starting: 'You can't walk away from that'


ST. LOUIS -- Prior to Game 1 of the Chicago Cubs' division series against the St. Louis Cardinals, manager Joe Maddon explained some of his roster and lineup decisions. Let’s break a few questions down.

After starting Tommy La Stella in the wild-card game, why is Chris Coghlan in the lineup for Game 1?

Coghlan has had success off Cardinals starter John Lackey, going 8-for-17 in his career, hence his addition to the lineup. Maddon mistakenly wrote down Coghlan would be in right field and Kyle Schwarber in left but reversed those positions quickly. He wants more experience in left field with left-hander Jon Lester on the mound.

“Just trying to guess where the ball is going to go more often today,” Maddon said several hours before first pitch.

The left-handed La Stella has played second base against righties, but Maddon chose to start Starlin Castro. Why?

Castro earned the right with a monster finish to his season, according to Maddon. He hit .426 in September.

“You could make an argument of La Stella over Castro, but Castro’s body of work in September really still stands out,” the manager said. “He’s been playing a really good second base. You can’t walk away from that, either.”

Where does Jorge Soler fit in?

On a lot of teams Soler would be starting, but the Cubs are deep enough that Maddon has some tough decisions to make. Ultimately, Soler is behind others unless the matchup simply dictates he should be in there though he is 4-for-8 against Lackey in his young career. He’s not starting in Game 1, but he might in another game in the series.

“He’s staying ready,” Maddon said. “He knows what’s at stake. You’ll see him out there at some point.”

Why did Quintin Berry get cut?

The Cubs obviously needed to add Jason Hammel to the roster but chose to drop Berry over another pitcher.

“I miss the thought of him being on the bench, but we have guys with similar skill sets regarding running or stealing bases,” Maddon said.

Part of the reasoning is what’s happening late in games. If the Cubs are trailing, then Berry becomes more valuable. But if they're leading, Maddon wants others on the bench with him.

“What’s going to be happening more consistently? Playing from even or behind or a position of strength later in the game? That speaks to (Chris) Denorfia and (Austin) Jackson more often. So you just make your best guess. You don’t know in advance.”

Who are the bridge relievers to get the ball to Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon?

It could be anyone from Clayton Richard to Justin Grimm to Fernando Rodney. It will all be about the matchup, which it normally comes down to, but Grimm isn’t necessarily always that guy right before Strop.