Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

pnc parkThe one day between the first and second games of the season is neither literally nor figuratively as long as the offseason wait between seasons, but it sure feels like a long time. Especially when the Cubs are coming off of a punch-you-in-the-nuggets loss.

The 2014 Edwin Jackson Positive Regression Tour (or “The 2014 Edwin Jackson Totally Fixed a Whole Bunch of Things Even Though We Can’t Quite Say What They Are But He Must Have Because How Else Is He Suddenly Better” Tour) starts tonight. He doesn’t have to pitch quite like Jeff Samardzija did, but a quality start would be, well, a quality start.

As for tonight’s lineup against righty Charlie Morton, I am exceedingly pleased with Ricky Renteria’s willingness to immediately use his roster’s flexibility. Which is to say, he’s loaded the thing with lefties. Emilio Bonifacio (switch-hitter) plugs in for Darwin Barney (although, technically, since Bonifacio was in the Openign Day lineup, it’s actually Ryan Sweeney’s bat that replaces Barney’s), Ryan Kalish plugs in for Junior Lake, and Luis Valbuena plugs in for Mike Olt.

I know that the last one is going to bug some folks, but keep some things in mind: this isn’t necessarily a strict platoon, Olt is probably still dealing with his shoulder thing, and you do have to get Valbuena in there sometimes. Also, Charlie Morton has become something of an *extreme* groundball pitcher. And, one of the best ways to combat a sinkerballing righty? Lots and lots of lefties. In this context, I’m very OK with Valbuena getting the start.

Speaking of which: Morton’s career splits are staggering. Righties have hit just .251/.316/.345, whereas lefties have hit 327/.410/.497 off of him. Hell, maybe John Baker should be starting, too.

My only lineup gripe? If you’re going to have Kalish at the bottom of the order anyway, I’d rather see him batting 9th, rather than 8th.  Yes, I went there.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (0-1) at Pittsburgh Pirates (1-0), 6:05 CT on CSN+.

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

Edwin Jackson (4.98 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 3.86 xFIP in 2013, 2.29 K/BB)


Charlie Morton (3.26 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 3.69 xFIP in 2013, 2.36 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. Charlie Morton, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B

2. Luis Valbuena, 3B

3. Starlin Castro, SS

4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

5. Nate Schierholtz, RF

6. Ryan Sweeney, CF

7. Welington Castillo, C

8. Ryan Kalish, LF

9. Edwin Jackson, P

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