Chicago Cubs Lineup (3/25/24): Happ Leads Off, Tauchman DH, Wicks Making Final Spring Start

The Cubs are done with their Cactus League slate but still have two games remaining against the Cardinals, who have traveled cross-country from Jupiter, FL in advance of their opening series against the Dodgers. The roster has been set, so now it’s a matter of giving everyone a final tuneup.

Jordan Wicks has already been named to the starting rotation and he’ll get the ball for the Cubs’ third game against the Rangers on Sunday. Justin Steele is still in line to pitch on Opening Day after taking a comebacker off the leg on Saturday, then Kyle Hendricks will start the second game. Shōta Imanaga gets the home opener against the Rockies on April 1 and Javier Assad takes the fifth spot.

Does anyone else think it’s supremely odd that there’s a day off between the first two games of the season at covered Globe Life Field but no break in the opening series at Wrigley Field? The Cubs do have a break between the Rockies and Dodgers, which makes more sense to me than having a day off in the middle of a series.

Anyway, Wicks has looked very good this spring and stretched to five innings his last time out, so this should feel like something close to a regular season game. Unless, that is, the Cubs see fit to pull him early and have him finish in the bullpen to allow a few more relievers to enter the game.

Today’s lineup looks like what we could see on Opening Day, with Ian Happ leading off in left, Seiya Suzuki in right, and Cody Bellinger in center. Christopher Morel is at third, Dansby Swanson is at short, Nico Hoerner is at second, and Michael Busch is at first. Yan Gomes is the catcher and Mike Tauchman bats ninth as the DH.

Going for the Cards is lefty Steven Matz, who has had a pretty rough go of it so far this spring. He’s allowed 10 runs in as many innings and has given up a homer in each of his last three starts. Matz does have 11 strikeouts to just two walks, however, so not everything is going wrong. That’s not too far off of his normal performance, which includes a lot of hard contact when he’s not missing bats.

Matz sits around 94 mph with the sinker he throws over half the time, backing it up with a change at about 10 ticks slower. His curveball makes up around 15% of his offerings and he’ll mix in a firm slider every once in a while. The change has typically been Matz’s best pitch, but he didn’t have great feel for it last year and may be tinkering with it this spring.

First pitch from Sloan is at 3:05pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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