Chicago Cubs Lineup (6/5/24): Tauchman DH, Busch 1B, Taillon Starting

The Cubs did their best to give last night’s game away, but a rain delay and subsequent power display carried them to a narrow victory. What’s funny is that a lot of people were acting like a win over the lowly White Sox isn’t something to be celebrated, as though the Cubs have been playing well lately or something. When you’re 2-8 over your last 10 and have dropped six series in a row, any win is a good win. Now the Cubs need another one to build a mini streak and some momentum.

That starts with Jameson Taillon, who has been pretty pedestrian after four very strong starts to open his season. Over his last four starts, he’s got a 4.87 ERA with 13 strikeouts and seven walks over 20.1 innings. His 4.80 FIP and 4.68 xERA indicate that his results are right where they should be, though his .352 BABIP against might mean he’s been victimized by some bad luck. Then again, the low strikeout numbers tell he’s simply giving up too much contact.

At the risk of belaboring the point, this is a great example of how we can use peripheral or expected stats to judge whether or not a player is getting the results they deserve. Christopher Morel’s experiencing a huge gap between actual results and what the data says he should be getting, so we can reasonably expect that he’ll start to put up better numbers here soon. Taillon, on the other hand, is right in line with expectations.

He may have to be better than mediocre unless the bats carry over the momentum from last night, a prospect that isn’t entirely far-fetched. Ian Happ is riding a heater, Morel is primed to make up some ground on his expected stats, and Dansby Swanson may finally be close to full health.

Mike Tauchman leads off tonight as the DH, followed by Seiya Suzuki in right, Cody Bellinger in center, and Morel at third. Happ is in left, Nico Hoerner is at second, and Michael Busch is at first. Swanson is at short and Yan Gomes is catching.

They’re up against Erick Fedde, who’s having the best season of his career by a wide margin as he looks to turn a strong first half into a trade to a contender. Fedde earned a two-year deal with the White Sox following a year with the KBO’s NC Dinos in which he put up big strikeout numbers with very few walks. During parts of six seasons with the Nationals, he struggled to work in the zone and gave up quite a few homers.

The 31-year-old righty has made some significant changes to his repertoire as a result of his time abroad, dialing back on the sinker and balancing out the usage of his four pitches. He still throws his 93 mph sinker the most, but it’s down to 32% after being up in the 40-ish range and even close to 60% in his early years. A true sinker, he locates down in the zone and a little to the glove side rather than getting typical two-seam action.

Fedde’s 90 mph cutter has been his best pitch and he throws it around 25% of the time, locating it near the top of the zone quite often with just a little glove-side run. His 83 mph sweeper has been okay, though it tends to finish in the zone too often to get many whiffs. He throws that equally as often as his changeup, a firm offering at 88 mph that typically lands either middle-down or on the arm-side edge. It’s gotten pretty poor results, but he’s upped its usage to 21% after rarely throwing it in the past.

The platoon splits against Fedde are almost identical, though he’s been much worse on the road this year. It’s actually pretty wild. His .095 ERA on the South Side balloons to 5.74 elsewhere, and we’re talking about pretty similar sample sizes. While that should start to even out at some point, it sure would be nice to see the Cubs take advantage of it tonight.

First pitch is at 7:10pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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