Chicago Cubs: Projecting the team’s Opening Day starting lineup

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Darvish to get the ball on Opening Day?

Make no mistake about it. If Chicago is going to find success this year, Yu Darvish will need to once again step up – just like he did in the second half last year. The big right-hander turned in a masterful showing after the All-Star Break, all but erasing memories of his injury-plagued 2018 debut.

He wanted the ball down the stretch in big games – and he delivered without missing a step. His 118-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio was mind-boggling to behold. Darvish showed that he’s worth every penny of his six-year, $126 million deal, unleashing an arsenal of pitches that’s unrivaled in today’s game.

Now, we know that Darvish was a big fan of Maddon, who he credited with helping him feel comfortable last season. He’ll have to adjust to Ross’ tutelage this season; but that shouldn’t matter – he’s got his feet under him in Chicago and now, it’s time to grind.

After Jon Lester‘s dismal showing in 2019 (and his notorious slow starts), it’s hard to imagine him getting the nod on Opening Day in Milwaukee. He’s not the ace anymore – as tough as that might be to accept.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ross go with Darvish on Opening Day, followed by Lester and Jose Quintana, who carries a 2.87 ERA in his career against the Brew Crew, including some stellar outings as a Cub in Miller Park.

That allows Kyle Hendricks, who is nothing short of lights-out at Wrigley Field, to take the ball in the home opener on March 30 against the Pirates. Last season, the soft-tossing hurler turned in a 2.04 ERA at home, as opposed to an unsightly 5.02 mark away from the Friendly Confines.