Series Preview: Cubs at Marlins, March 29 – April 1, 2018
Welcome to the Chicago Cubs 2018 Major League season, where everything will be great, and we’ll never be concerned with late-game meltdowns, frustrating bullpen choices, defensive gaffes, slumps, injuries, playing time, Minor League stints, ticket prices, rooftops, aldermen, TV deals, bathroom lines, goats, droughts, or how good Eloy Jimenez will look on the White Sox.
What? Not the positive-energy intro you were expecting?
Well, like the Cubs last season, we fans spent 2017 a little hungover. But not this year. This year we’re gonna stay hungry from start to finish, and remember that winning in this league is hard. Very hard.
The Cubs appear to be favorites in their division, but the Cardinals are perennial contenders and the Brewers are clearly on the upswing. I have no doubt it’s the Cubs’ division to lose, but I’d rather the Cubs make it hurt as much as possible. And that means getting off to a great start on the road.
Speaking of which, the regular season kicks off tomorrow morning in Miami, where Brett will be cheering on the Cubs in-between photo ops with the home run sculpture in center field. The Cubs will be favored in this series, but tomorrow’s Marlins starter, Jose Urena, can bring the heat.
We’re Going Streaking
The Chicago Cubs (0-0) kick off their 2018 season with a four-game set in Miami. But while the teams are on polar ends of the competitive spectrum, anything can happen at the start of the year.
The Miami Marlins (0-0) are starting things off at home, but are DEEP in the heart of a rebuild. To be honest, they’re probably hoping to be swept.
Game Times and Broadcasts Info
- Thursday, March 29 at 11:40 CT on WGN-9, ESPN (Out-of-market only), 670 The Score
- Friday, March 30 at 6:10 CT on WGN-9, 670 The Score
- Saturday, March 31 at 6:10 CT on NBC Sports Chicago, 670 The Score
- Sunday, April 1 at 12:10 CT on NBC Sports Chicago+, 670 The Score
- J. Lester (0.00 ERA, 0.00 FIP; 0.00 K/BB)
- K. Hendricks (0.00 ERA, 0.00 FIP; 0.00 K/BB)
- Y. Darvish (0.00 ERA, 0.00 FIP; 0.00 K/BB)
- J. Quintana (0.00 ERA, 0.00 FIP; 0.00 K/BB)
Active Depth Chart:
- C – Willson Contreras
- 1B – Anthony Rizzo
- 2B – Javy Baez
- 3B – Kris Bryant
- SS – Addison Russell
- LF – Kyle Schwarber
- CF – Ian Happ
- RF – Jason Heyward
- J. Urena (0.00 ERA, 0.00 FIP; 0.00 K/BB)
- C. Smith (0.00 ERA, 0.00 FIP; 0.00 K/BB)
- O. Despaigne (0.00 ERA, 0.00 FIP; 0.00 K/BB)
- D. Peters (0.00 ERA, 0.00 FIP; 0.00 K/BB)
Active Depth Chart:
- C – Tomas Telis*
- 1B – Justin Bour
- 2B – Starlin Castro
- 3B – Brian Anderson
- SS – Miguel Rojas
- LF – Derek Dietrich
- CF – Lewis Brinson
- RF – Cameron Maybin
*J.T. Realmuto will begin the season on the DL
Keep an Eye Out For …
Cubs Pitcher: Yu Darvish will debut with for Cubs in the third game of this series, beginning the six-year contract he signed with the team this offseason. And if his Cactus League work is any indication, he should be in store for quite a season. During 19.1 Spring Training innings, Darvish earned a 2.79 ERA, while striking out 20 batters and walking just five.
Cubs Player(s): Ian Happ and Albert Almora both figure to work into this series evenly, as the Cubs are scheduled to face two lefties and two righties in Miami. Although Happ looks ready to become the everyday leadoff man, he’ll still likely cede some starts in center to Almora against southpaws. Happ’s 1.211 OPS this Spring led the Cubs and was second only to Dan Vogelbach in all of MLB (if he had enough plate appearances to qualify for the prestigious Spring Training batting title). Almora’s Spring was much quieter, but his defense at a premium position and talent against lefties will keep him relevant.
Marlins Pitcher: Jose Urena was already expected to carry most of the weight in the rotation this year before Dan Straily, their #2, went down with right forearm inflammation. Now, he’s the 26-year-old leader of the staff, with just 315.0 IP to his name. Urena doesn’t strike many batters out, and he walks them at an average clip, but he can throw in the mid-to-upper 90s, while mixing in a very devastating slider (18th best in MLB last season, one spot behind Chris Sale and ahead of Zack Greinke). The Cubs will be best served by lifting the ball, something Urena has struggled to prevent.
Marlins Player: Starlin Castro is not the first “Marlin” you think about, but after the team traded Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Dee Gordon, and Giancarlo Stanton this winter (and are starting the season without J.T. Realmuto behind the plate (back contusion)), there aren’t many other notable names. And, hey, we love Castro around these parts, so I really hope he has a great season – starting Monday. Last year, Castro slashed .300/.338/.454 with 16 homers (110 wRC+) for the Yankees, marking his best season at the plate since 2014 with the Cubs. ZiPS is projected a significant step back (95 wRC+) this season, but I suppose we’ll see.