Chicago Cubs Lineup (3/12/24): Tauchman in RF, Suzuki in LF, Peralta DH, Steele on Mound

The Cubs are facing the Brewers again in spring training action, this time in the evening with their ace going up against former organization-mate Colin Rea. Perhaps best known as part of the infamous scuttled trade between the Padres and Marlins in 2016 that saw San Diego accused of keeping fake medical files on players, Rea injured his elbow and didn’t appear again in the bigs for nearly four years.

After signing a minor-league deal with the Cubs and winning Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year honors in 2019, the righty tossed 14 innings over nine appearances during the COVID season. He was released to pursue an opportunity in Japan, but spent only two months with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks before the birth of his child caused him to leave the team.

That led to a brief stint with the Brewers, then another with the SoftBank Hawks, then back to Milwaukee for the 2023 season. Last year saw Rea reach career highs in appearances (26), starts (22), and innings (124.2) as he relied more heavily on his sinker and incorporated a sweeper with help from the folks at Driveline. That led to a one-year, $4.5 million deal with a 2025 club option that more than doubled his previous career earnings.

Though the sweeper doesn’t grade out particularly well in terms of pitch value, it only accounts for around 11% of Rea’s repertoire. Its best feature is probably that it offers a very different shape from his cutter and keeps hitters off of the two-seam and fastball, both of which he likes to work to the glove side. Scouting reports on opposing pitchers typically occupy the end of these posts, but I really enjoy Rea’s story and I was thinking a few of you might as well.

He’ll be facing Mike Tauchman in left, Seiya Suzuki in right, and Cody Bellinger in center. Christopher Morel cleans up at third, Dansby Swanson is the shortstop, Michael Busch is at first, and Nico Hoerner plays second. David Peralta makes his Cubs debut as the DH and Yan Gomes bats ninth as the catcher.

Justin Steele is on the mound for the third time this spring as he continues what has been a very consistent ramp so far. His lines for each of those first two games are almost identical across the board, so now it’s just a matter of getting stretched out and incorporating more aggressive sequencing as he moves forward. With Opening Day as the target, Steele should probably see two more starts after this one.

First pitch is set for 8:05pm CT on Marquee Sports Network.

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