Reds manager David Bell did more than just move Elly De La Cruz out of the leadoff spot

TJ Friedl will be leading off for the Cincinnati Reds during tonight's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz / Harry How/GettyImages
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Well, the nightmare is over. Elly De La Cruz will not be batting in the leadoff spot tonight when the Cincinnati Reds visit the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Reds manager David Bell released his lineup card, and while Jonathan India was still nowhere to be found, De La Cruz will not be hitting atop the batting order for the first time since July 16th.

Instead, centerfielder TJ Friedl will be taking his hacks from the leadoff spot when tonight's game begins. But Bell made a wise move when it comes to De La Cruz's placement in the lineup.

Reds manager David Bell did more than just move Elly De La Cruz out of the leadoff spot.

With Jonathan India apparently still nursing a foot injury, TJ Friedl will get the nod as the Cincinnati Reds leadoff hitter. The 27-year-old is no stranger to hitting first. Friedl has an OPS .812 while hitting leadoff in 27 games this season.

Elly De La Cruz will be batting third tonight; something has hasn't done yet in the major leagues. But it's not necessarily where De La Cruz is hitting in the lineup, but rather who's hitting in front of and behind him.

Matt McLain will bat second tonight, and Spencer Steer will be hitting cleanup. But why is this significant? Because for the first time in a long time, David Bell is protecting De La Cruz in the lineup. How? By sandwiching him between two batters who absolutely crush left-handed pitching.

As a switch hitter, De La Crus has struggled when he's batting from the right side. The rookie is hitting 16-for-64 (.250) and, according to FanGraphs, has a 41.5-percent strikeout-rate against southpaws.

Opposing managers have used this to their advantage, especially when Will Benson was batting ninth and TJ Friedl was hitting behind De La Cruz in the No. 2 hole. Any opposing manager could bring in a lefty out of the bullpen to face Benson, De La Cruz, and Friedl and would be no worse for wear.

But now, with McLain (1.040 OPS against left-handed pitchers) and Steer (.966 OPS against left-handed pitchers), teams are far less likely to employ that tactic in order to turn De La Cruz around in the batters' box.

Moving Elly De La Cruz down in the batting order was no-brainer. But surrounding him by fellow rookies Matt McLain and Spencer Steer is what makes this lineup change even better.

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