pnc parkAnd away we go!

The first game of the 2014 season, and the first game of the Ricky Renteria era as manager. How does that first lineup look against lefty Francisco Liriano? Pretty fair, though you’re likely to point out the inclusion of lefty Nate Schierholtz. I’m going to assume that’s because Justin Ruggiano’s ankle is still bothering him. It’s a bummer, since the Cubs start against a lefty, but he’ll presumably get today and tomorrow off before returning on Wednesday or Thursday (when the Cubs face another lefty in Wandy Rodriguez).

You’ll also notice that, with Emilio Bonifacio in the outfield (probably going to be a regular thing against lefties), he plays center field and Junior Lake slides to left. I guess, even as a utility guy, Bonifacio is better in center than Lake when the games really count. A mark against Lake, or a compliment to Bonifacio’s extreme defensive versatility?

There’s a lot of speed at the top of the lineup, and Starlin Castro ends up slotting in the three-hole, with Anthony Rizzo behind him. It’s not a bad group against Liriano, but it’s really not overstating it to say that Ruggiano may have been the biggest threat in the lineup against Liriano (career .256/.328/.506 against lefties). The good news is that, based on the way Ruggiano described his ankle issue, he could theoretically be available to pinch hit (I’m just guessing, mind you).



Oh, and a head’s up that you’ll notice in Pre-Gamin’ posts this year, as well as Series Previews: the W/L stat for pitchers no longer exists to me. It’s stupid, misleading, and a terrible reflection of performance and ability. I’ll breath no further life into it, thankyouverymuch.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (0-0) at Pittsburgh Pirates (0-0), 12:05 CT on WGN and ESPN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Jeff Samardzija (4.34 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 3.45 xFIP in 2013, 2.74 K/BB)

versus

Francisco Liriano (3.02 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 3.12 xFIP in 2013, 2.59 K/BB)

Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup

1. Starling Marte, LF

2. Travis Snider, RF

3. Andrew McCutchen, CF

4. Pedro Alvarez, 3B

5. Russell Martin, C

6. Neil Walker, 2B

7. Travis Ishikawa, 1B

8. Jordy Mercer, SS

9. Francisco Liriano, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, CF

2. Junior Lake, LF

3. Starlin Castro, SS

4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

5. Mike Olt, 3B

6. Welington Castillo, C

7. Nate Schierholtz, RF

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Jeff Samardzija, P




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