Chicago Cubs Lineup (5/29/24): Tauchman DH, Gomes Catching, Imanaga Starting

The Brewers haven’t scored a run against a Cubs starter in 32.1 innings this season, a streak that could be extended this afternoon. Shōta Imanaga hasn’t allowed a run in 12 innings over his last two stars and has a mere 0.84 ERA entering tonight’s game, but he hasn’t pitched in 10 days after having his turn skipped in St. Louis. The rainout allowed the Cubs to give him that extra break, something they’ve been planning since signing him over the winter.

Imanaga has been outstanding this season and he’s particularly fun to watch because he isn’t afraid to throw strikes. He has walked more than one batter in just two of his nine starts and has managed to keep the ball in the park with greater frequency than expected as a fly-ball pitcher. Working higher in the zone has allowed him to maintain his NPB success in MLB, now the Cubs need him to do it again to climb the NL Central ladder.

The bats finally came to play after being pretty much silent through most of the first two games, so maybe they can keep that momentum going. Mike Tauchman will lead off as the DH, then it’s Seiya Suzuki in right and Cody Bellinger in center. Christopher Morel cleans up at third base, Ian Happ is in left, Nico Hoerner is at second, and Michael Busch is at first. Dansby Swanson handles short and Yan Gomes is the catcher.

On the hill for the Brewers is 26-year-old righty Bryse Wilson, who debuted with the Brewers in 2018 at the tender age of 20. An early fourth-round pick in 2016, Wilson blasted through the minors but has since struggled to find a groove in the bigs. He’s wavered between the bullpen and rotation in that time and seemed to have found his spot when the Brewers had him work exclusively in relief last season.

He’s back in a swing role this year and seems to be doing pretty well on the whole, though his .235 BABIP tells us he may be benefitting from luck. Or maybe it’s just the 89 mph cutter he throws a little over a third of the time, locating it up in the zone and working largely from that arm-side edge across the zone. That pitch took over as his primary offering last season, replacing a bad slider that sat 83-84 mph.

Wilson throws his 94 mph sinker almost as often as the cutter and gets a little more vertical movement than most, so it’s been successful despite ending up in the middle of the zone much of the time. His curveball comes in around 81 mph and tends to miss by enough that hitters can spit on it, then he’s got a four-seam that lights up the arm-side third of the zone. Opponents may see an occasional changeup, just not enough to worry about.

As a big burly guy — he goes 6-foot-2 and roughly 275 pounds — Wilson has the appearance of a dude who picks up a bunch of strikeouts. He’s a little below league average in that regard, however, and he’s also walked batters at a slightly higher rate than his collective colleagues. Interestingly enough, Wilson has been much better as a starter than a reliever this season despite a huge disparity in his strikeout and walk results.

In 15.1 innings out of the ‘pen, he has a 4.11 ERA with 17 strikeouts and just two walks. As a starter, he’s logged 28.2 innings with 21 strikeouts, 15 walks, and a 2.20 ERA. His platoon splits are even more pronounced, with left-handed hitters slashing .261/.354/.507 and right-handed hitters struggling to a .176/.250/.297 line. That gap is small at home, but we’re only talking about 18 innings.

Maybe it’s just their recent performance, but this feels like one of those games where the Cubs could be walking into a buzzsaw. Then again, they’re due for a big scoring outburst and Wilson could just as easily end up on the wrong end of it. It sure would be a nice night for Suzuki and Bellinger to rediscover their power strokes.

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

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