Game 3: Saturday, March 31 – 6:10 p.m. CT – Yu Darvish (0-0, 0.00) v Odrisamer Despaigne (0-0, 0.00)
The much-awaited regular season debut of Yu Darvish comes in Saturday’s matchup against Miami. The right-hander capped off the Cubs’ impressive offseason, immediately boosting the rotation. Now, he hopes to finish a job he came so close to finishing in 2017 – winning a World Series.
Darvish employed an array of delivery tweaks this spring, showcasing his near-flawless balance on the mound. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what he brings to his official Cubs debut. Another interesting note – this will be the righty’s first career start at Marlins Park.
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Despaigne, meanwhile, was a jack-of-all-trades for Miami in 2017. He started eight games, finished another five and made some middle-relief appearances, as well. Control issues (1.29 K/BB ratio last season) will be something to keep an eye on. But that can be said for pretty much every one of the Marlin hurlers this weekend.
Game 4: Sunday, April 1 – 12:10 p.m. CT | Jose Quintana (0-0, 0.00) v Dillon Peters (0-0, 0.00)
Even typing Quintana’s name into the fourth game of the series-opening series felt wrong. That’s just how deep this Cubs’ rotation is, though. Three of their five starters pitching in Opening Day starts just last season.
A nice problem to have, to be sure.
After coming over mid-season last year, Quintana pitched well for Chicago down the stretch. Now that he’s settled in on the North Side, people expect big things for a guy who has never seemed to quite hit his full potential.
As for Miami, lefty Dillon Peters, coming off a seven-strikeout, 4 2/3 inning performance in his final spring outing, gets the nod. Command, again, is the make-or-break for this young pitcher – something manager Don Mattingly pointed out to MLB.com.
"“The fact that he’s throwing strikes and getting his curveball over,” Mattingly said. “He had the same type of outing in the Minor Leagues. In his last time out, he didn’t walk anybody. So, I think he’s pretty confident that he’s kind of back on top of the command thing.”"
Pretty clearly, the Cubs hold a major advantage when it comes to pitching. And that’s without even starting to get into their loaded lineup.