Chicago Cubs Lineup (3/9/24): Hoerner Leads Off, Wisdom at 3B, Taillon Makes First Spring Start

The Cubs have named Justin Steele their Opening Day starter, but the rest of the rotation has yet to come into focus. That will change ever so slightly on Saturday as Jameson Taillon takes the mound for the first time this spring in Cactus League action. The big righty has been pitching live bullpens and sim games so far as he works through calf soreness and mechanical tweaks.

Taillon’s struggles last year were due in part to him landing open out of his stride, which seems like something the team should have identified sooner. Then again, we’re talking about what was probably a very small change that may have only been evident to someone looking for a particular data set. Until proven otherwise, I’m sticking with the theory that trying to develop a sweeper last offseason led Taillon to pull with his glove side.

Many spring starts come with the caveat that pitchers may be more focused on specific processes than on getting outs, and that’s very much the case this afternoon. Even so, getting his mechanics dialed in should help Taillon to execute much better across all of his pitches.

Today’s lineup features a number of regulars, beginning with Nico Hoerner in the leadoff spot and playing second base. Seiya Suzuki is in right, Cody Bellinger is back in center for the second game in a row, and Dansby Swanson is at short. Dominic Smith is the DH, Yan Gomes is catching, Patrick Wisdom is at third, and Garrett Cooper is at first a day after hitting a three-run oppo homer. Alexander Canario rounds out the order in left.

They’re facing Rockies righty Dakota Hudson for the second time this spring after watching him go just one inning on 24 pitches back on Leap Day. Hudson’s velocity has dropped off quite a bit from the mid-90s he put up over the first few seasons of his career with the Cardinals. Never a big strikeout guy, he has been among the worst in the league over the last two seasons when it comes to getting whiffs.

Hudson has also walked 95 batters since 2022 and has issued five free passes to just two strikeouts over three spring innings so far. The Cubs should be able to get traffic on the bases in this one to support their own staff.

First pitch is at 2:05pm CT on Marquee Sports Network.

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