The Chicago Cubs will head to Miami a week from today for game 1 of 162 against the Marlins. This Marlins team is in the beginning of a major rebuild after trading superstars Giancarlo Stanton, Marcel Ozuna, and Christian Yelich. They should struggle mightily in 2018 so the Cubs have a good chance of getting the season started on a high note. However, the Cubs cannot look past this ball club and play down to them.
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It will be a pitching matchup of Jon Lester vs. Jose Urena in the 1st game. Urena is a second year right-handed pitcher who pitches to contact, trying to induce weak ground balls. Likewise, Lester also induces a lot of weak contact by both cutting and tailing his fastball. Urena has had limited experience against Cubs hitters, but who’s hot and who’s not against him?
1. Ian Happ
In 5 AB’s, Happ has 3 hits and a HR against Urena. Could this mean the switch-hitter will get the nod in the lead off spot on Opening Day?
2. Anthony Rizzo
Rizzo has tallied 3 RBI’s in only 6 AB’s against Urena while collecting 2 base hits. Would you expect anything less from the Cubs leader?
1. Kris Bryant
KB went 0-5 against the righty in 2017 so he’ll look to turn things around next Thursday.
2. Javy Baez
This is somewhat of a stretch. Baez has gone 1-5 against Urena in his career. Not a horrible number, but worse than the rest of the Cubs hitters against the righty.
Against right-handers, expect to see Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward manning the corner outfield spots. Center field is the only real question mark, but with Happ’s Spring Training success and him being a switch-hitter, I expect him to get the nod.
1. Ian Happ CF
2. Kris Bryant 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo 1B
4. Willson Contreras C
5. Kyle Schwarber LF
6. Addison Russell SS
7. Jason Heyward RF
8. Javy Baez 2B
9. Jon Lester P
The Cubs will round out the series with Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, and Jose Quintana. The Marlins have not yet announced how they will line up their rotation after Urena. Who else is ready for next Thursday?
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