Chicago Cubs (96-76) at Miami Marlins (77-85)
|Date & Time||Thursday March 29, 2018, 3:33 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Miami Marlins +200 / Chicago Cubs -240 --- Over/Under: 8.5
FSFL, WGN, ESPN
The MLB’s opening day activities will feature an afternoon matchup Thursday at Marlins Park between the Chicago Cubs and the Miami Marlins.
After their World Series victory in 2016, the Cubs came up short last season in a repeat bid. Chicago managed to dispatch the Nationals in the first round of the playoffs three games to two, but then were able to win just one game versus the Dodgers.
The Cubs have some interesting and talented players on the roster this year. Kyle Schwarber will be a key factor after posting 89 hits and 46 RBI last season, and Kris Bryant will also be an important piece for Chicago following his 162 hits, 111 runs and 29 homers.
As for Miami, they went just 77-85 in 2017 and failed to make the playoffs. The big hole in the Marlins lineup this season is Giancarlo Stanton, who made off for the Yankees. In his place is the big bat of Starlin Castro, and he had a pretty good spring for the Marlins.
Pitching in this matchup will be Jon Lester and Jose Urena. Lester managed to go 13-8 for the Cubs last season and carried a 4.33 ERA. As for Urena, he posted a 14-7 mark for Miami and had a 3.82 ERA.
The Cubs are 14-3 in their last 17 during game one of a series and 9-3 in their last 12 versus the NL East. Chicago is also 36-16 in their last 52 following an off day and 6-2 in Lester’s last eight Thursday starts.
Meanwhile, the Marlins are 6-1 in their last seven home games and 3-7 in their last 10 during game one of a series. Miami is also 4-12 in their last 16 Thursday games and 1-6 in the last seven versus a left-handed starter.
Early-season baseball is always tough to predict, but on the surface these teams seem pretty cut-and-dried. Chicago is hoping for another World Series berth, while Miami is retooling yet again and attempting to improve on their lackluster 2016. Chicago should come out firing here so I’m going with the Cubs.