Chicago Cubs Lineup (4/13/24): Running Back Same Lineup, Imanaga Pitching

The Cubs have now lost two games in a row to fall to 1-3 on their West Coast swing, and the absent offense is at least partly to blame. Not that it mattered much on Wednesday, but last night’s sluggish output was counter to what we’ve seen all season. Maybe they can get things going against a righty who’s been less than sharp to this point.

The same can’t be said for Shōta Imanaga, who has yet to give up an earned run in his two previous starts. He hasn’t walked a batter either, making his 12 strikeouts all the more impressive. The southpaw has adjusted quickly to the MLB strike zone — and I’m talking about the real one, not the garbage Ángel Hernández calls — by working higher with his fastball than he did in Japan. Between that and his splitter, he’s been the Cubs’ best pitcher.

It’d be nice if the bats didn’t force him to be near perfect again, huh? Tonight’s lineup is the same as yesterday, so I’m going to save some time and assume you either remember it or can refresh your recollection by checking below.

They’re facing rookie Emerson Hancock, who is making just the sixth start of his MLB career in this one. After looking kinda-sorta okay in three starts last season, Hancock has been roughed up in two starts this season. He’s allowed 11 earned runs on as many hits, three of which have left the yard, and he’s struck out seven of the 44 batters he’s faced. While he was never really overpowering in the minors, his paltry 14% strikeout rate in the bigs isn’t going to cut it.

The 24-year-old has a balanced repertoire that features a four-seam (40.2%), slider (20.7%), changeup (19.5%), and sinker (19.5%), but he’s got to make some changes to either his sequencing or location. It may be a matter of simply throwing too many strikes, as his heat maps all feature burning red sections inside the zone. Hancock’s 93 mph four-seam is his only pitch with positive value because he’s been able to bust righties up and in with it.

His cutter/gyro slider can sometimes get to the lower glove-side corner, but often backs up on him and ends up arm-side in the lower third. The change likewise has a tendency to stay up rather than tumbling out of the zone. Without elite velocity, he’s got little margin for error. Though their patient approach has been praised, the Cubs might want to jump on this young Mariners starter early and often.

First pitch is once again at 8:40pm CT and this time more folks will be able to watch it on Marquee or listen on 670 The Score.

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