Chicago Cubs identify this fix that is needed for Shota Imanaga

Shota Imanaga's start on Saturday gives him more data for his transition to MLB.

Mar 2, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Shota Imanaga against the Los Angeles
Mar 2, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Shota Imanaga against the Los Angeles / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Japanese starting pitcher Shota Imanaga made his unofficial debut for the Chicago Cubs on Saturday as he started the team's Cactus League game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Imanaga and the Cubs were not focused on the results, as Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic (Subscription Required). Still, the team got more data for the fix they are attempting to make for Imanaga as he transitions to Major League Baseball.

Imanaga was billed as a flyball pitcher who could miss bats with his arsenal of pitches. That was on display on Saturday as he struck out five Dodgers' batters in 2.1 innings of work, but hitters were able to square up his fastball.

Imanaga's ability to utilize the Cubs' pitching infrastructure and alter his approach with his fastball and secondary pitches will make the difference between him trending toward the top of the team's rotation or sitting at the bottom.

Shota Imanaga will be the key to the Chicago Cubs starting rotation.

The projections on Imanaga have been mixed, but FanGraphs seems to believe he has the potential to be the best starter in the Cubs' rotation during the 2024 season. However, that belief is also driven by the fact that many expect to see Justin Steele regression.

There will be balance needed for the Cubs to ensure that the tweaking they are doing is not an over-correction. That was the case last season when the Cubs altered Hayden Wesneski's slider to the point where he struggled to do the one thing that led to his ascension--miss bats. Wesneski's results are more of an anomaly for the Cubs' pitching infrastructure than the expectation.

Steele is the perfect example of how the infrastructure can work. Such a success for Imanaga would be needed for a Cubs' team lacking legitimacy at the top of their starting rotation.

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