Chicago Cubs Lineup (5/30/24): PCA in CF, Bellinger DH, Taillon Starting for Split

The Cubs have won just one of their last seven games, with the most recent loss coming in the worst start of Shōta Imanaga‘s young MLB career. But hey, at least it’s the second game in a row and third in the last five that they’ve scored six runs. That’s at least better than getting shut out, though this team can’t seem to get everything working at the same time with any regularity.

If the pitching is nails, the bats are quiet. If they hang crooked numbers, their opponents hang crookeder ones. Now the Cubs need to win Thursday afternoon to avoid losing the series and dropping below .500 for the first time since the start of April. They are tied with the Cardinals for second place in the NL Central and sit just two games ahead of the Pirates, so this game and the coming weekend will be big.

Jameson Taillon has come back to earth a bit after a very strong start, allowing 13 runs (eight earned) on 22 hits and six walks over his last three outings. He made it through the 5th inning just once in those games and struck out only nine batters in 14.1 innings, which has been a bit of a theme. Taillon’s 15.2% strikeout rate is by far the lowest of his career, though he’s done a decent job of avoiding barrels.

He may not be able to get away with too many mistakes the way the Brewers have been hitting, especially if Willy Adames continues to destroy the Cubs. It sure would be nice for the lineup to make Taillon’s performance a moot point. Getting an injection of energy from a guy who should never have left may help.

Mike Tauchman is leading off in right, followed by Ian Happ in left, Cody Bellinger at DH, and Christopher Morel at third. Michael Busch is at first, Nico Hoerner is at second, Dansby Swanson is at short, Pete Crow-Armstrong is in center, and Miguel Amaya is the catcher.

They’re facing former Cubs great Colin Rea, who is pitching about as well as can be expected given his checkered health history and historically meh performance. The righty is making his 10th start and 11th total appearance for the Brewers and has a 3.98 ERA with a 4.60 FIP. His K-rate is just three-tenths of a point better than Taillon’s and his walk rate is about two points higher, so we’re not talking about an overpowering dude here.

Rea throws a 92 mph sinker that stays up in the zone with glove-side action, an 88 mph cutter that he likes to start on the arm-side edge and work in, and a 93 mph four-seam that works middle-up. His 82 mph sweeper gets good depth and typically finishes just below the zone on the glove-side edge, making it his best pitch by far. The sweeper is actually his only real weapon at this point, though the splitter he throws occasionally is decent.

That breaking ball helps him to neutralize right-handed batters, but lefties have hit six of the seven homers he’s allowed and have a .934 OPS so far this season. The splits are very stark at home, so maybe this will give Bellinger a chance to rediscover his power stroke.

First pitch is at 12:10pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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