Chicago Cubs Series Preview: Youth, inexperience big hurdles for Miami Marlins

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Miami Marlins
Miami Marlins /

Cubs have a clear edge when it comes to pitching

Game 1: Thursday, March 29 – 11:40 a.m. CT | Jon Lester (0-0, 0.00) v Jose Urena (0-0, 0.00)

Even in a loaded Cubs rotation, veteran Jon Lester takes the ball for Opening Day. Last year was a bit of a rough-and-tumble campaign for the lefty, who pitched to a 4.33 ERA, 4.10 FIP and 1.323 WHIP. This spring, though, Lester got off to a strong start – finishing the spring with a 2.81 ERA in four outings.

In his career at Marlins Park, Lester has made three starts – allowing 18 hits and 11 runs in 19 innings of work. His last outing there, however, was a seven-inning start where he allowed just three earned – so there’s cause for hope.

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Opposite Lester, young right-hander Jose Urena starts for the Marlins. While his overall numbers were solid in 2017 in what many tabbed a ‘breakout’ campaign, his metrics are a cause for concern. A 5.20 FIP and 1.77 strikeout-to-walk ratio are hardly confidence-inspiring.

Game 2: Friday, March 30 – 6:10 p.m. CT | Kyle Hendricks (0-0, 0.00) v Caleb Smith (0-0, 0.00)

Kyle Hendricks starts 2018 looking to take that final step to ‘ace’ status. He shocked the baseball world with a Top 3 Cy Young finish two years ago, but needs to show he’s the real deal after an injury-plagued 2017.

The soft-tossing righty has dominated the Marlins in his career, with a 1.32 ERA in four outings. He certainly won’t be hurt in his bid for his first win of the season by the fact his counterpart is a largely unproven commodity.

Caleb Smith has a whopping two career big league starts under his belt – and they didn’t go well. Brought up primarily as a reliever, he failed to pitch out of the fourth in both of his outing as a member of the Yankees in 2017. This spring, he struggled with control and looks – at best – to be a questionable member of the Miami rotation.