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pittsburgh-piratesThe 2014 season is here, and the Cubs open things up in Pittsburgh once again this year. As you pull for the win today, try not to remember what happened last year on this day (the Cubs won) and what happened thereafter (the Cubs fell apart).

The Series Preview gives you the rundown on what you need to know for the upcoming series. In that way, it’s kind of a preview. About a series. See how that works?

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs finished up their Cactus League/exhibition season at 15-18-1. That’s about a 74-win pace for a 162-game regular season, which would be interesting if Spring Training records told us anything whatsoever about what was to come.

The Pirates, on the other hand, went 15-10-2 in Spring Training (they had several games cancelled – Florida, man). I don’t think that’s too meaningful, either. They finished the 2013 season at 94-68, and then won the Wild Card game against the Reds.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Monday, March 31 at 12:05 CT on WGN, ESPN.
  • Wednesday, April 2 at 6:05 CT on CSN+.
  • Thursday, April 3 at 11:35 CT on CSN, MLBN.

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.

Cubs

Starters: Jeff Samardzija (-), Edwin Jackson (-), Jason Hammel (-)

Lineup (just an early guess, and it’s obviously a little nuts with the versatility):

  1. Emilio Bonifacio, LF/2B
  2. Starlin Castro, SS
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Nate Schierholtz/Justin Ruggiano, RF
  5. Mike Olt/Luis Valbuena, 3B
  6. Junior Lake, LF-CF/Ryan Sweeney, CF
  7. Welington Castillo, C
  8. Darwin Barney, 2B
  9. Pitcher

Pirates

Starters: Francisco Liriano (-), Charlie Morton (-), Wandy Rodriguez (-)

Lineup:

  1. Starling Marte, LF
  2. Neil Walker, 2B
  3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
  4. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
  5. Russell Martin, C
  6. Jose Tabata/Travis Snider, RF
  7. Travis Ishikawa, 1B
  8. Jordy Mercer, SS
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Anthony Rizzo was killing this Spring, especially off of lefties. On the whole he hit .314/.364/.529 with a couple homers in 55 plate appearances (mostly against legit big leaguers).

The big story, of course, is Starlin Castro, whom everyone will want to see get off to a hot start. It’s going to be tough, given that he missed all of Spring Training, and is pretty much going to have to get ready on the fly. That can be tough when you’re facing big league starters who’ve been preparing for a month.

The other big story, I suppose, is Jeff Samardzija, whom everyone also wants to see get off to a hot start. That begins today, and hopefully continues at least through June, so the Cubs have some options if extension talks have continued to stall.

The Cubs led baseball in Spring homers, so hopefully that’s something that will carry on into the season (even if a huge chunk of those homers will be playing shortstop for the Iowa Cubs).

Your ERA leaders among the starting pitchers this Spring: Jason Hammel (3.24) and Edwin Jackson (4.00), each of whom threw dominant outings in their final appearance, and each of whom face the Pirates in this series.

Reigning MVP Andrew McCutchen hit .417/.472/.792 this Spring because he is insanely good.

Right behind him was Starling Marte (.346/.382/.500), who also happens to have just received a healthy contract extension. Those are the guys to watch out for in the lineup, so long as you don’t give up a homer to Pedro Alvarez (because that’s pretty much all he can do).

Francisco Liriano was a beast last year for the Pirates (2.92 FIP) after struggling the two previous years (FIPs well into the 4s). There will be some regression this year, you can pretty much book it. Will it start today against the Cubs? Liriano just got over a late-Spring groin tweak, so I wonder if he’ll be a little tentative.

 

Note: As you’re just now noticing, the Series She-View has been retired for the 2014 season. I know for some of you this will be a disheartening development (and I’d encourage you to take it to the Message Board if you’d like to continue the tradition). It was just time to move on.

  • jh03

    Holy crap I missed these.

    • Fishin Phil

      +1

      • blublud

        +2

        • Edwin

          ^2

    • Funn Dave

      Me, too. And I’m glad the She-View is no more. Maybe now we can get some women on these boards.

      • Karl Groucho

        Serious +1 here.

  • itzscott

    Okay, so the numbers point to another 90+ loss season.

    Bigga Dooley….. I look at it as not only do the Cubs great a great draft choice this year, but they’ll also get another one next year as well.

    By the time these prospects develop they’ll have blue chips at each position and should be a lock to go to the WS for the following 10 years.

    Go Cubs Go!

  • NorthSideIrish

    en Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal 30s
    As Samardzija starts opener, keep in mind #Cubs’ haul for Garza: Olt and Grimm made club, Ramirez could have, Edwards best player in deal.

    Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal 59s
    Ramirez for #Cubs this spring: IP 7 2/3, H 2, R 0, BB 0, K 11. Edwards will open at AA. #Rangers nothing to show for Garza, not even pick.

    Stealing.

    • blublud

      We know what not to call it. :O

      I think Theo should watch out. He might get an indictment returned for Grand Theft Larceny on that one.

    • Porkslap

      Overall the Cubs ended up trading Chris Archer, and Hak-Ju Lee (amongst others) for Olt, Grimm, Ramirez and Edwards. I think that’s pretty even, but Archer is still the best player in the deal. Still wish we had never made the trade in the first place. It never did make sense.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        We also got 2 years of Garza. That’s not nothing.

      • Isaac

        Why not tell the rest of the story?

        Cubs trade Derosa and Hak for the haul from Texas. Not to mention Zac Rosscup. ALL trades were *huge* wins (Derosa, Garza, Garza).

    • C. Steadman

      “#Rangers nothing to show for Garza, not even pick.”

      They now have Robinson Chirinos…does that count a little? haha

  • https://twitter.com/LouHemp beerhelps

    Hey everybody:

    Enjoy opening day. Have a good time. We’ll get back to debating numbers, players and the “plan” tomorrow. Today though, it’s all good.

  • http://obstructedview.net Myles

    [img]http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/500x/47920032.jpg[/img]

    • ChrisFChi

      ^this

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Heh. It’s now the stuff of legends and denials.

  • Edwin

    Series She Hero:

    Chicago: Myrtle Bachelder(1908-1997), Chemist and Women’s Army Corp officer who worked on the manhattan project.

    Pitt: Stephanie Kwolek(1923-still alive), inventor of Kevlar.

    • Fishin Phil

      This post is worthless without pics.

      • Edwin

        They were too hot for this site to handle.

        • CubChymyst

          Radioactive material is usually best avoided.

      • Hee Seop Chode

        [img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/5c/Bachelder1942.jpg[/img]

        Vs

        [/img]http://www.herstorynetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/stephanie_kwolek.jpg[/img]

        • Hee Seop Chode

          [img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f6/Stephanie_Kwolek_1986.TIF[/img]

        • Hee Seop Chode

          last try…

          [img]http://www.herstorynetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/stephanie_kwolek.jpg[/img]

          • mikelach13

            Look at the microscope on that chick! Schwing!!!!!

    • roz

      I like this.

      • Funn Dave

        Me, too.

  • Kev

    What if we KEEP the series she-view, but we instead just make sure that the participants aren’t sexually objectified? For example:

    [img]http://www.sonofthesouth.net/revolutionary-war/pilgrims/puritan-woman.jpg[/img]

    versus

    [img]http://i.imgur.com/3lI26M9.jpg[/img]

    I’m not sure which one represents the Cubs which one represents the Pirates. OH WAIT THE CUBS ARE THE AWESOME ASTRONAUT AND THE PIRATES ARE THE BORING PURITAN LADY.

    • Kev

      Wow, well, after posting that, I REALLY wish I had considered the resolution of the images I chose.

      • terencemann

        I personally think it would be pretty awesome if each series preview came with a notable woman from American history.

        • Edwin

          Agreed. We could always start something in the message boards, if that’s cool with Brett.

          • Fishin Phil

            Alright, but no more Janet Reno bikini shots!

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              She was a proud and distinguished woman.

              [img]http://thumbnails.hulu.com/432/40041432/40041432_384x288_generated.jpg[/img]

  • JM

    This is maddening. I go through this every year. Someone help, please!

    Ok, I live in Indiana, which is E.S.T. Chicago is in the Central. Pittsburgh is East of both. So does a start time of 12:05 C.S.T mean 11:05 Indiana time? Or maybe it’s 2:05… or really 12:05 my time…

    D.S.T has screwed me all up when it comes to game start times!

    • JCubs79

      If you live in the Eastern Time Zone, then the start time for you is the same as it would be in Pittsburgh, 1:05 PM.

    • Brent Kennedy

      1:05 PM your time.

    • OCCubFan

      “Ok, I live in Indiana, which is E.S.T.”

      Not so fast. Indiana has an exceedingly complex history concerning time zones and DST-observance. Indiana is currently split between Eastern and Central time, but the entire state observes DST. Therefore, JM cannot currently be in EST; he is either in CDT or EDT.

      See, for example,
      http://www.timeanddate.com/time/us/indiana-time.html
      and
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_in_Indiana

    • DarthHater

      Look at a clock on your wall. Then google “pittsburgh time.” Subtract the Pittsburgh time from 1:05 pm and add that much time to whatever your wall clock says. Sheesh. :-P

    • Picklenose

      Does your local tv news start at 10 or 11 pm? 10 pm, use the start times on the Cubs homepage. 11 pm, use the start times on the MLB homepage.

  • Bob

    Always the same feeling for 70 years.

  • Brent Kennedy

    Bleacher Nation,

    My new trade desk doesn’t have a great angle on the tv and I can’t leave the office because of the 11:00 AM grain reports. I assume MLB.tv and ESPN will be blacked out here. I have AT&T Uverse, but it doesn’t appear WGN is available for live tv. How can I watch the game live?

    • Hee Seop Chode

      where are you?

      • Brent Kennedy

        Chicago

        • Hee Seop Chode

          at work i’d say you’re screwed. At home I’d suggest googling Cubs Pirates streaming and watching it on a british gambling site.

          • Brent Kennedy

            Well at home I could just turn on WGN. I appreciate the feedback though.

            Damn MLB blackouts.

    • Illini Cubbie Fan

      I’m pretty sure that “Watch ESPN” is free on your phone.

      • Brent Kennedy

        Won’t the game be blacked out though since I am in Chicago?

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          It doesn’t currently say “subject to local blackout” for the Cubs game on watchespn.com, so I would say to give it a shot

          • Brent Kennedy

            Cheers. Will do.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      I’ll help you with the grain reports:

      1. Did it rain in Chicago? Prices plummet
      2. Did it rain in Iowa? See question #1.

      There. Your job is done.

      • Brent Kennedy

        Ha, well played.

    • hoosiercub

      don’t know if this is kosher to post, but streams from strikeout.co have always been good to me, though you may want a good adblocker before heading that way

    • Darth Ivy

      Grains suck. Trade oil. Short it down a few bucks. Easy.

  • Medicos

    Hi Bob: I can certainly relate to your feelings about being a Cub’s fan. Been a fan since 1952 and have only experienced 17-winning seasons in all these years.

  • C. Steadman

    Boni-CF
    Lake-LF
    Castro-SS
    Rizzo-1B
    Olt-3B
    Castillo-C
    Schierholtz-RF
    Barney-2B

    …Ruggiano’s ankle must be bothering him pretty good for him to miss a start against a lefty…MIKE OLT!

    • C. Steadman

      OD lineup per Carrie Muskat tweet

  • cking6178

    I know your lineup card is just a “best guess” at this point…but I thought R-Squared was talking about batting Castro leadoff because that’s where he’s most comfortable…anyway, CHEERS it’s opening day…I’m stuck at work, but have the MLB.tv app, so will be watching the game on my phone :)

  • C. Steadman

    Go Cubs Go!

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  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    You know what’s going to be neat? The Series Preview is going to be such a more interesting thing to do when the Cubs are competitive. That has essentially never been true in the five year history of the site. I always like doing them, but when it’s for a make-or-break series in September? Oh man, that’s going to be the shit.

    /meta

    • C. Steadman

      “Oh man, that’s going to be the shit.”

      Couldn’t have phrased that any better. This site will be the shit when the Cubs are competitive. Hard to imagine what we’d argue over then, but I’m sure there’ll be something…

      • Picklenose

        I am afraid we will be arguing about how we could have been competitive much sooner if we had not followed “the plan.”

        • C. Steadman

          Yeah, probably true…But we’ll at least be winning!

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