Rizzo did pinch hit in the seventh inning, getting into his 130th game of the 132 the Cubs have played this season, but before the game there seemed to be some consternation in social media regarding Rizzo sitting against one of the best left-handers in the game. Was this the wrong move by manager Dale Sveum?
The answer is no. It’s not a big deal. Rizzo has started 128 games and will play in most of the games the rest of the season. Lefties were hitting .148 against Kershaw going into the game, so there was no reason to force the issue.
“I want to give him a few days off here and there, and this was a good one to give him off,” Sveum told the Cubs' official website.
Many were critical of Sveum earlier this season when he indicated stars like Rizzo and Starlin Castro would play in 162 games. He backed off that stance when both started to struggle, so this makes perfect sense. Let Rizzo have a breather on a day when he was going to have a tough time hitting anyway. It’s called taking advantage of the situation or maybe simply making the best of a tough one.
“It'd be kind of fun to face him,” Rizzo told the website. “It's a good day to take off. I get the day off (Tuesday), play (Wednesday) and a day off the next day, so it's a little blow."
You can make the case that Rizzo should face the best, but it really doesn’t override the idea that days off are needed and should be taken accordingly. He isn’t the first left-hander to sit against one of the best left-handers in the game. In fact, moving forward this is how it should be for Rizzo and Castro: days off when the situation calls for it. It doesn’t mean Rizzo will never face the best pitchers in the game, but if the timing is right for a day off against a particularly tough left-hander there is no problem with using that day as a refresher.
And the fact that the game is meaningless to the Cubs in the standings should have little effect on the decision. If a day off helps a player -- and we assume it does -- then there should be no issue with Rizzo sitting. He plays enough.