The Cubs’ final home series last year came against the Cardinals, and now they open the 2015 season, at home, with those same Cardinals. The first game, of course, is the Opening Night Game for the whole MLB season.
It’s a long season. Not everything hangs on this series. It’s just the first one. I must keep telling myself these things or I will burst with anticipation and crash if the Cubs lose a single game.
If the Cubs could win two of these three games, though … man, I’d be pretty stoked.
We’re Going Streaking
The Cubs wound up at .500 in the Cactus League, though they did just lose their two exhibition games at Chase Field. None of that means anything, though.
The Cardinals were 13-11 in Spring Training. Last year, they did some good things in the regular season. But then this happened to them, and the world slide back on its axis.
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Sunday, April 5 at 7:05 CT on ESPN2.
- Tuesday, April 7 at 7:05 CT on WGN-9.
- Wednesday, April 8 at 1:20 CT on ABC-7.
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. I suspect there will be almost daily changes for the Cubs.
Starters: Jon Lester (2.46 ERA, 2.80 FIP; 4.58 K/BB (2014)), Jake Arrieta (2.53 ERA, 2.26 FIP; 4.07 K/BB (2014)), Jason Hammel (3.47 ERA, 3.92 FIP; 3.59 K/BB (2014))
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Jorge Soler, RF
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Starlin Castro, SS
- Miguel Montero, C
- Mike Olt, 3B
- Chris Coghlan, LF
- Arismendy Alcantara/Tommy La Stella, 2B
Starters: Adam Wainwright (2.38 ERA, 2.88 FIP; 3.58 K/BB (2014)), Lance Lynn (2.74 ERA, 3.35 FIP; 2.51 K/BB (2014)), TBA
- Matt Carpenter, 3B
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Matt Holliday, LF
- Matt Adams, 1B
- Yadier Molina, C
- Jhonny Peralta, SS
- Jon Jay, CF
- Kolten Wong, 2B
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
A number of Cubs’ regulars seemed to really be hitting their stride by the end of Spring Training, which could be a good sign (or no sign). The real question is going to be about the guys battling nicks and scrapes: Dexter Fowler left his final Spring game with lower back tightness, Chris Coghlan has been dealing with a neck issue, and Jon Lester didn’t have a typical Spring Training thanks to a bout of dead arm.
The Cubs’ bullpen was fan-freaking-tastic in the second half last year, and if Phil Coke and Jason Motte can add anything, it could be a real strength for the Cubs. Each of the last two years, the Cubs have been brutalized in the early going by poor bullpen performances. You can’t expect your starters to go eight innings every night, especially in April.
Outfielder Randal Grichuk was the offensive leader for the Cardinals this Spring with a .250/.365/.545. He may get only occasional starts in the early going this year, but he’s a pretty good fourth outfielder to have available at every outfield spot.
The Matts Carpenter and Holliday were the next best offensive players this Spring. Each is a critical bat for the Cardinals this year, and each is coming off of a season with a considerable dip in his production – Holliday (now 35) dropped from a 147 wRC+ to a 132 last year (still pretty studly), and Carpenter dropped from 146 to 117.
Yadier Molina, who turns 33 this year, also dipped from 126-138-133 in wRC+ in 2011 through 2013 to just 102 last year. He also managed just 110 games – his lowest total since his rookie year in 2004.
Not that I’m trying to focus on Cardinals with a chance to slide this year, but Adam Wainwright is 33, had an elbow procedure after the 2014 season, saw his walk rate increase and strikeout rate decrease last year, and also dealt with an abdominal issue this Spring.