When the Cubs open up the 2018 season, they’ll do so against the Marlins with a four-game series in Miami.
As we know, Jon Lester is scheduled to get the ball on Opening Day, and he’ll be followed by Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, and Jose Quintana (it’s funny: you could argue that the rotation gets more difficult with each passing game, but I won’t make that argument here today).
As of this morning, the Marlins were planning to counter with Jose Urena on Opening Day, which we’ve already discussed, and Dan Straily for Game 2. Beyond that, they’re expected to play around with some combination of Sandy Alcantara (who was just optioned to Triple-A today), Odrisamer Despaigne, Jacob Turner, Caleb Smith, and Justin Nicolino, according to Andre C. Fernandez (Miami Herald).
Unfortunately (for the Marlins), the plans for that already-modest rotation may have already been derailed:
Marlins SP Dan Straily is dealing with a slight elbow strain. He first turn in the rotation next week is unclear.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) March 20, 2018
Straily, the former Chicago Cub, put together his best year in the big leagues last season, making 33 starts (181.2 IP) with a 4.26 ERA, plus the highest K-rate (22.1%) and the lowest BB-rate (7.8%) of his career. He’s also looked pretty good this spring, working a 1.29 ERA with a 10/2 K/BB ratio in 14.0 innings pitched.
Thus, the loss of Straily for the start of the season is a pretty big blow for the Marlins, who already have a ton of question marks behind him. We obviously don’t know the extent of the injury or how long he’ll be out, but given our proximity to the regular season and the nature of the injury (elbows are bad news, and must be treated cautiously), I wouldn’t be too optimistic if I were a Marlins fan.
In other words, an already weak starting rotation just lost one of its key members for the start of the season, right when they’ll be playing the Cubs. Joe Maddon’s offense, it seems, may have just caught a lucky break.