Happ is out of the lineup Sunday against the Cardinals, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. Happ will take a seat in favor of Albert Almora, who starts in center field for the second time in the series. The second-year utility man is in the midst of a six-game on-base streak, but a bloated strikeout rate (39.2 percent) remains the biggest hindrance in his efforts to capture a full-time role.
Happ went 1-for-5 with a solo home run and two runs scored in Friday's win over the Cardinals. Happ now has nine home runs this season in just 159 at-bats, as he's been a consistent power threat when he's been in the lineup. However, the 23-year-old also struck out two more times Friday, and his season strikeout rate sits at an unsightly 39.7 percent. Happ will likely continue to cede much of the playing time in center field to Albert Almora as long as his contact woes continue.
Happ is on the bench for the second straight game Tuesday against the Brewers. Albert Almora will again man center field. Happ has managed to overcome a 40 percent strikeout rate to post a respectable .227/.356/.447 line on the season, good enough numbers for a player who can hold his own in center. Almora grades out much better in the field, however, and has outperformed Happ at the plate as well, hitting .323/.374/.441.
Happ is starting in center field and batting fifth in Sunday's game against the Pirates. For the second straight game, Happ will start the game in center field with Albert Almora on the bench. Cubs manager Joe Maddon has rotated these two fairly evenly all season, so it would probably take more than two straight starts to determine if Happ has overtaken Almora for playing time in any significant way. For now, expect the two to continue splitting time, which means Happ could hit the bench early next week.
Happ is out of Saturday's lineup against the Mets. Albert Almora has been on a tear at the plate, so he has been a lineup staple, and Jason Heyward is getting the start in right field and hitting second, so Happ will start the game on the bench. He is hitting .265/.468/.676 with three home runs and one steal over his last 34 at-bats.
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