The sun rises on a very different Marlins team as 2018 finally gets into swing. Opening Day is finally here, and only two of eight opening day starters are the same as last season. Justin Bour will man first base, and Derek Dietrich is now playing in left field instead of third base.
New to the team is four-time all-star second baseman Starlin Castro, from the Yankees. Lewis Brinson is in center field, from that time we raided the Brewers’ pantry. Miguel Rojas, (relative) long-time player for the Miami Marlins, holds down shortstop.
Tomas Telis will hold down the catcher position until J. T. Realmuto gets off the DL. We’ve got rookie Brian Anderson manning the hot corner, in place of the injured Martin Prado. Prodigal son Cameron Maybin rejoins the team after six seasons spent elsewhere in right field. To top it off, Jose Urena (who entered 2016 not even sure of a rotation spot) gets the opening day nod.
Projected Opening Day lineup
The Cubs didn’t win the World Series last season, that was 2016. Still, they have a ton of pieces still in place from that run, including starter Jon Lester. Lester, now 34-years-old, is 1-2 with a 4.66 ERA in five starts against the Marlins. He has held the Fish to a slashline of .287/.344/.522, and his 1.414 WHIP in games against is amongst his worst against any club.
Urena, conversely, is pretty solid against the Orphans. He’s 2-1 in three starts against, with a 3.18 ERA, a 1.235 WHIP, and an opposing slashline of .197/.310/.311.
Defensively, the Cubs will start Willson Contreras in the battery with Lester. Their infield features three-time all-star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, 2016 NLCS MVP Javier Baez at second, 2016 All Star Addison Russell at shortstop, and 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant.
Not a lot of slack there, so how’s the outfield? In right field, the Cubs will start five-time Gold Glove winner Jason Heyward. Center field will be home to Albert Almora Jr., who slashed .298/.338/.445 in 132 games last year, his official rookie campaign. 2016 World Series MVP Kyle Schwarber is perhaps Chicago’s weakest link at the plate, with a .222/.329/.471 slashing to his credit. He’ll start in left.
Opening Day History
Miami is 11-14 throughout their history on opening day, but they haven’t won their first game or the season since 2014. Casey McGehee collected four RBI, Marcell Ozuna hit a home run with two singles, Adeiny Hechavarria hit three singles, and Giancarlo Stanton hit a single and a double with two RBI. The Marlins defeated the Colorado Rockies that day by a 10-1 final count. Jose Fernandez turned in a dominant performance, allowing one earned run and striking out nine in six innings to earn the victory.
Miami has started their season in March four times before, but March 29th is two days earlier than they have ever played a regular season game. They do have a 2-2 record in the month of March, with each of those contests happening on March 31st of that season.
Cubs vs. Marlins History
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The Cubs hold a slight edge in head-to-head competition against the Marlins over the last 25 years, with a 95-97 record.
On opening day, the Marlins hold a 2-0 edge on the Cubs. In 1997, eventual World Champion Florida defeated Chicago, 4-2.
Kevin Brown was nearly untouchable that day, holding the Cubbies to one hit and a pair of walks over seven innings. He struck out eight for the victory. Offensively, Moises Alou hit a home run, while Bobby Bonilla, Jeff Conine, and Luis Castillo each collected a pair of hits.
In 1998, the defending World Champion Marlins secured an 11-6 victory in Pro Player Stadium over the Cubs. Cliff Floyd, Edgar Renteria, Ryan Jackson, Gary Sheffield, Mark Kotsay, and Craig Counsell each collected multiple hits in the offensive onslaught. Charles Johnson joined the hit parade, joining Sheffield with an opening day home run, and Livan Fernandez did just enough to come away with the win despite allowing five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.
In 2003, the Marlins topped the Cubbies in seven games to go to their second World Series, where they defeated the New York Yankees in six. The most notorious contest the Marlins have ever played happened in Game Six of the series at Wrigley Field. That was the infamous Steve Bartman incident.
The Cubs, of course, won the World Series in 2016, and amongst the ring recipients was none other than Bartman himself.
The Cubs held a 4-3 edge last season in head-to-head competition. The last time Miami played Chicago was on June 25th, at Marlins Park. Edinson Volquez struck out four and walked five in five innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He earned the 4-2 win with help from Giancarlo Stanton, who hit his 20th home run of the season in the seventh inning.
Steve Cishek saved 94 games for the Marlins between 2010 and 2015. He ranks third on the all-time Marlins’ leaderboard. On December 15th, he signed a 2-year, $13 million contract to come out of the Chicago bullpen.
Dan Straily pitched in seven games for the Cubs in 2014, allowing 20 hits and nine walks in just 13 2/3 innings. He’s currently regarded as Miami’s number two starter.
Starlin Castro played his first six seasons with the Cubs. He slashed .281/.321/.404 in 891 games, with 62 homers and 363 RBI.
Probable Pitching Matchups
All games will be broadcast on FS Florida, and will be available on MLB.TV.
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