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Rainout gives Cubs' bullpen a chance to rest

Zobrist to bat leadoff more often instead of Happ
Special to MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- The Cubs needed an off-day to rest their overworked bullpen and struggling offense, and now they'll have two.

Tuesday night's game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park was postponed due to heavy rain, giving the Cubs two straight non-game days before beginning a four-game series against the Brewers at Miller Park on Thursday.

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CINCINNATI -- The Cubs needed an off-day to rest their overworked bullpen and struggling offense, and now they'll have two.

Tuesday night's game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park was postponed due to heavy rain, giving the Cubs two straight non-game days before beginning a four-game series against the Brewers at Miller Park on Thursday.

View Full Game Coverage

The Cubs and Reds will make up Tuesday's game with a split doubleheader at Great American Ball Park on Saturday, May 19 at 12:10 p.m. CT and 6:10 p.m. CT. Fans holding tickets for tonight's game will be able to present their same ticket for the rescheduled game at 12:10 p.m. with no exchange necessary.

Tuesday's game was postponed after a one-hour, 24-minute delay. There were several tornado watches and warnings in the Cincinnati area and another large line of storms due to arrive later in the evening.

Video: CHC@CIN: Chatwood cuts down Suarez at the plate

The weather's timing wasn't bad for the Cubs. Chicago's bullpen has thrown 26 innings, second-most in MLB, while posting a Major League-leading 0.69 ERA. Tyler Chatwood's six innings on Monday helped a little, but the group needed a breather.

Manager Joe Maddon said prior to Tuesday's game that he would keep his rotation on schedule in the event of a rainout, meaning Jon Lester's scheduled start will be pushed back to Thursday at Miller Park.

"We'll stay in line," Maddon said prior to the game. "We're looking for an off-day to get the bullpen right, so we're counting on that being tomorrow. That's my bigger concern."

The Cubs haven't been shut out in three consecutive games since 1992. They are batting .137 (7-for-51) with runners in scoring position through five games.

Video: CHC@MIA: Zobrist's single puts Cubs ahead in the 10th

In an effort to jump-start the offense, Maddon had Ben Zobrist leading off on Tuesday instead of Ian Happ, who has only one hit since his first-pitch homer on Opening Day in Miami.

"Zo looks pretty good to me," Maddon said. "Among all of our guys, he gives you that pro at-bat as often as anybody. Coming out of camp, he wasn't quite there yet. He looked pretty sharp to me in Miami. I believe the hot hand exists."

Zobrist has 887 career plate appearances in the leadoff spot, batting .241/.330/.389 with 23 homers, 71 RBIs, and 105 runs.

Maddon said he also considered leading off with Albert Almora Jr., but he likes him better in the middle of the order. Maddon also believes Happ still has a future as a leadoff batter, but he wants to see Happ hit more balls to the opposite field than he has recently.

"We know he strikes out, that's part of his gig," Maddon said. "When gets back over there [to the opposite field], he'll take off."

Happ, who reached base twice in Monday's 1-0 loss to the Reds, said he feels comfortable at the top of the lineup and confident the Cubs' offense will find its stride.

"This team's going to be just fine, offense is going to be just fine," said Happ. "There are a lot of really good hitters. Not everybody's meshing right now. Not everybody's swinging it well. We will get to the point where everything clicks. We'll see some big numbers. It's just a matter of time."

Perhaps the rest will do them good.

Video: CHC@MIA: Lester strikes out Urena for his first K

Up next

The Cubs have an off-day on Wednesday before beginning a four-game series against the Brewers at Miller Park. As a result of Tuesday's rainout, Lester will make his second start of the season Thursday at 7:10 p.m. CT on MLB.TV, looking to rebound from his Opening Day performance in Miami, when he lasted just 3 1/3 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) and 10 baserunners in an 8-4 Cubs win.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jeff Wallner is a contributor to MLB.com.

Chicago Cubs, Tyler Chatwood, Ben Zobrist