Chicago Cubs Lineup (5/7/24): Hoerner Leads Off, Bellinger at DH, Imanaga Starting

Last night’s loss featured yet another bullpen implosion combined with a poor offensive effort that included a failure to score so much as a single tally after loading the bases with no outs. These kinds of performances feel more like features than bugs, though the pending returns of several injured players should shore up some of the weak spots.

Getting Justin Steele back was a start, now it’s a matter of figuring out how to get the relief corps to be able to hold the leads the rotation hands over almost every night. Monday was part of why it’s “almost,” as the game was scoreless when Steele departed. That’s how Shōta Imanaga likes to keep things as well, with no runs allowed in three of his six starts.

Imanaga’s last start was his longest in MLB so far as he gave the Cubs seven shutout innings to earn his fifth win. He can move into a tie for the league lead with another win, though he may need a little help to get there.

Nico Hoerner leads off at second base, Mike Tauchman is in right, Cody Bellinger returns to the lineup as the DH, and Christopher Morel is at third. Ian Happ slides down to the fifth spot in left, Dansby Swanson is at short, Michael Busch is at first, Miguel Amaya is the catcher, and Pete Crow-Armstrong patrols center.

They’re up against righty Randy Vásquez, who is making his third start with the Padres after coming over from the Yankees in the Juan Soto trade. Things have been rough for him in the early going, with eight runs allowed (five earned) on 11 hits over just 7.2 innings. He has five strikeouts with three walks and has allowed what appears for now to be an unsustainably high .346 BABIP.

Vásquez boasts a mid-90s fastball that he sprays around too much, leading to him falling behind in counts. His sweeper has been okay, but it isn’t a put-away pitch because it has caught too much of the zone in the early going. Some tracking services conflate his curve with his sweeper and lump them together as a slider, which tells you he’s a little slurvy. The velocities are nearly identical as well, hence the classification issues.

The curve has gotten poor results so far, as has the sinker that either gets way too far off the plate to the arm side or ends up in the nitro zone. Vásquez’s changeup has been his worst offering by far on a relative basis, but we’re only talking about 11 pitches. This should be a guy the Cubs can handle easily, but that makes me think he’ll bust out in this one for the best performance of his young career.

First pitch from Wrigley is at 6:40pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

Back to top button