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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)

versus

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

  • newsguy23

    What a heaping pile of rejects this team has on it.

  • Kyle

    Cubs can’t handle pressure with RISP. Theo’s supercomputer forgot about the human factor.

  • Crockett

    JD does have some good one liners. “In baseball, ground can cause a fumble.”

  • ThatCubsGuy

    Cmon Jackson…..fighting with fire for the second straight inning

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    I keep thinking the Cubs can’t find new ways to frustrate me. But a first two innings featuring two strikeouts, a pickoff, a doubleplay with nobody out, and a first-pitch tapper to the pitcher with a man on third? Yeah, that’s pretty frustrating.

    • Crockett

      It’s quite a thing.

    • spearman

      What’s the record for most scoreless innings to start the season?

  • Crockett

    Still can’t get over this. Remind me why Sweeney is playing?

    Bonifacio in CF, Valbuena 2B, and Olt at 3B.

    Splits be damned!!

  • Jojo1691

    Kalish looks real shaky out there

    • ThatCubsGuy

      thought he had a solid chance to get Walker….. till that ball left his hand….

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Jackson is pitching like his 2013 self.

  • Jason P

    I love it when Castillo does that.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Jackson has thrown 38 pitches in two innings. The pen should get a work out tonight.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Castro looks like he’s on top of every pitch. Doesn’t look good at all.

  • smackafilieyo

    We make every left hand pitcher look like CY Friggin young…

    • roz

      Charlie Morton is right hander…

      • smackafilieyo

        Haha, oops…not watching the game. Been watching game day here in Texas. Still 12 innings and no runs so far this season…

        • roz

          To be fair though, you’re right. We do generally make every left handed pitcher look like Cy Young.

  • itzscott

    Don’t like what I’m seeing tonite….

    On the mound, in the field and at the plate.

    What’d I leave out?

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      At least Jackson looked better that inning.

  • ssckelley

    Offense needs to wake up! I am ready to see the Cubs first homer of the season.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Yes, just one extra base hit in a game and a half is not good. (Renteria snuffing that one double with a sacrifice bunt immediately afterwards still irks me, too….) The Cubs just don’t walk enough to win with nothing but singles. Heck, the Sox don’t walk enough to walk with nothing but singles….

      • ssckelley

        I agree, in fact Schierholtz swung at ball 4 in this inning.

        This Morton guy is not throwing anything special. In fact he has left a few pitches up in and the Cubs are not doing anything with them.

      • Jason P

        I do want to say this: at least the shifts are still being used.

  • Rebuilding

    I said it all last year. Castro has got to ditch the wide open stance. He looked then and looks now completely out of sync, off balance and slow to the hitting zone. It’s not how he set up through the minors or his rookie year. Why he changed his whole pre pitch approach is puzzling to me

    • DocPeterWimsey

      It’s the Red Queen: batters have to adjust their stances periodically to shift their blue and red zones.

  • itzscott

    So glad so many of you convinced me to like this lineup!

    • Jon

      It’s my fault

  • ssckelley

    Frustrating to watch Jackson get ahead of hitters and then manage to run the count full.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      Well at least he’s not giving up 0-2 extra base hits, so it could be worse. If that doesn’t sound like a Cubs fan………….

  • ChrisFChi

    I’m glad I’m listening to it on the radio, from the sound of it I think my eyes may start to bleed.

  • ThatCubsGuy

    Third time’s the charm?

  • Crockett

    This is exhausting.

  • ssckelley

    Cubs 0 for whatever with runners on. Just bad luck.

  • Picklenose

    At least we aren’t getting creamed?

  • itzscott

    Radical thought:

    Since Castro missed all of spring training and it undoubtedly shows during his at bats,

    Maybe it’s time to consider bring Baez up and sending Castro down until he works it out in Iowa.

    • Jason P

      No. No way, no how.

    • ssckelley

      Send Rizzo down and call up Lars!

    • DarthHater

      But then, if the Cubs still lost 90+ games, it would mean that Baez is not valuable. I don’t think they can afford to take that risk.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Deep down Cub fans knew this team would be bad offensively. It’s going to be a struggle for this roster to plate runs.

  • Crockett

    Castro is definitely pulling off the ball something terrible. Just really bad.

  • smackafilieyo

    16 innings and counting — come on guys!!

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    We need to bring in a voodo preist from Haiti to lift this curse!

  • YourResidentJag

    Well, looks like it’s time to try some Malort. :)

  • ThatCubsGuy

    Wow…….

  • Jason P

    Sigh

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