Chicago Cubs Lineup (4/20/24, Game 2): Hoerner at SS, Madrigal at 2B, Imanaga Starting

The early game was one to forget as the Cubs blew yet another lead to lose by one. Adbert Alzolay has now blown four saves and probably needs some time to sort things out even if it means rolling with Mark Leiter Jr. or another reliever to close games in the meantime. I’d throw Ben Brown’s name in the hat if the Cubs didn’t need him for length. Of course, scoring just two runs didn’t put them in a good spot.

They really need to bounce back in a big way tonight so they can go into Sunday looking for three out of four rather than a split. Shota Imanaga is on the mound with a chance to increase his streak of innings with an unearned run that currently stands at 15. For those keeping track at home, that would be every inning he’s pitched for the Cubs. His last start in Seattle ended with a win, but he was a little shaky with five hits allowed and both of the walks he’s issued on the season. Maybe he can tighten things up tonight.

Nico Hoerner is leading off again but he’ll slide over to short to give Dansby Swanson a break. Cody Bellinger is in center, Chris Morel is at third, Michael Busch cleans up at first, and Garrett Cooper is the DH. Mike Tauchman is in right, Nick Madrigal is at second, Yan Gomes is catching, and Alexander Canario will have some more adventures in left.

The Cubs are facing 24-year-old righty Roddery Muñoz, who is making his MLB debut after working his way up through three different organizations. He was in the minors with the Braves for several seasons before being placed on waivers and subsequently claimed by the Nationals in July of last year. The Nats DFA’d him in late November and he was claimed by the Pirates, who then DFA’d him two weeks later and traded him to the Marlins for cash considerations. That’s actually four orgs, but he never played for Pittsburgh.

Muñoz put up big strikeout numbers at the lower levels of the minors and even during his first stint at Double-A in 2022, brief though it was. After just one outing back at that level last year, he was promoted to Triple-A and worked as a reliever with a moderate degree of success. Things started to get pretty rough with the Nats’ top farm team and have been quite bad with the Marlins as well, so this feels like little more than a situation in which the Fish are sending out a sacrificial lamb.

Through 10.2 innings over three total appearances with two starts, Muñoz has struck out seven with 12 walks issued. Yikes. Free passes have always been a problem for him with 161 in just under 298 innings (4.87 BB/9), but his control has gotten worse over the last two seasons and his strikeouts have dropped in kind. All that said, his upper-90s fastball and 60/70-grade slider make him dangerous if he’s on.

Should he continue to pitch like he has over the last two seasons at Triple-A, however, the Cubs are going clog the bases and bang the ball all over. Here’s to hoping the scoring is as high as those who view 4/20 as a sacred holiday. Today may actually be just as important to Pat Hughes as it is tokers around the world because 4/20/2024 is a palindromic date.

Have your munchies ready when the game starts at 6:40pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.


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