FINALLY! Welcome Back to Wrigley Field: Pirates at Cubs, April 1-4, 2020

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FINALLY! Welcome Back to Wrigley Field: Pirates at Cubs, April 1-4, 2020

Chicago Cubs

Although I won’t be at Wrigley Field when the Cubs kick off the 2021 regular season against the Pirates today, the fact that some fans will be there drinking beers, eating peanuts, and yelling at the umpires just makes me all warm inside. Baseball is back after a wonky 2020 season (a season in which the Cubs won the NL Central again, I’ll remind you), and fans are reclaiming their rightful place in the stands. No more fake audio, no more animated fans, no more universal DH (if that’s something you care about). It just feels right.

And I don’t hate that the Cubs are starting their season off against one of the worst teams in baseball, either. Remember, the only way this team stays intact through the trade deadline is if they get off to a hot enough start in April, May, and June. Fortunately, the Cubs will play the Pirates 12 times before the end of May, so hopefully they take advantage.

Let’s go, Cubs.

Random aside: The last time I was at Wrigley Field on Easter, Jon Lester was making his first start for the Chicago Cubs, the bleachers were under construction, and the bathrooms didn’t work. It was awesome. 

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (0-0) kick off the season as the defending NL Central champions. With that said, preseason expectations are about as low as they’ve been since 2014. I still think people are sleeping on just how talented this group is (and how little it was ultimately blown up in the winter), but I also understand the caution.

The Pittsburgh Pirates (0-0) are considered one of the worst teams in MLB. They hemorrhaged talent all offseason, and that was out of a team that already struggled mightily in 2020. Randomness happens in individual series, but … the Cubs really should win this series.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Thursday, April 1st at 1:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Saturday, April 3rd at 1:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Sunday, April 4th at 1:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Kyle Hendricks (R) v. Chad Kuhl (R)
Game 2: Jake Arrieta (R) v. Tyler Anderson (L)
Game 3: Zach Davies (R) v. Mitch Keller (R)

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Willson Contreras
•   1B – Anthony Rizzo
•   2B – David Bote
•   3B – Kris Bryant
•   SS – Javy Baez
•   LF – Joc Pederson
•   CF – Ian Happ
•   RF – Jason Heyward

Unavailable: N/A

Pittsburgh Pirates

•   C – Jacob Stallings
•   1B – Colin Moran
•   2B – Adam Frazier
•   3B – Ke’Bryan Hayes
•   SS – Kevin Newman
•   LF – Bryan Reynolds
•   CF – Anthony Alford
•   RF – Gregory Polanco

Unavailable: N/A

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: 0
Pirates: 0

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 0
Pirates: 0

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 0
Pirates: 0

This section will have more info as the season goes on, heh.

Keep An Eye Out For …

Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks is making his second consecutive Opening Day start for the Chicago Cubs, but he has a big performance to follow-up from last year … you know, when he tossed a complete game, three-hit shutout against the Milwaukee Brewers with no walks and nine strikeouts. By game score (98), that was the best regular season start of his entire career.

The New Cubs Starters. Joc Pederson, 28, is replacing Kyle Schwarber in left field this season and will get a lengthy leash as the everyday starter, even versus left-handed pitching, against whom he’s struggled throughout his career. But if he does find some across-the-board success, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs find a way to keep him beyond this season. He’s still pretty young. The other new starter, David Bote, is finally getting his shot at second base. And although I don’t think he’s long for that position, there is a chance that third base could open up in the near-future. Let’s see if that bat plays.

Chad Kuhl’s splits. Chad Kuhl is starting for the Pirates on Opening Day, and he has had some seriously pronounced lefty/righty splits for his career:

LHH: .271/.361/.492; 1.45 HR/9; 40.5% fly ball rate
RHH: .255/.323/.388; 0.87 HR/9; 31.3% fly ball rate

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami