Cubs Opening Day: Here’s what to expect at Wrigley this weekend

(Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

We’ve finally made it through the offseason and the Chicago Cubs are ready to roll with Opening Day set for Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field. There’s been a lot of built up anticipation to this point and the Cubs are a team that could surprise a lot folks this season. The team finished 15-9 in Cactus League action with a team average of .260 and ERA of 4.79. The stage is set and we look at the Opening Series against the Pirates and what to expect.

It’s no surprise Kyle Hendricks is the Opening Day starter with Jake Arrieta and Zach Davies lined up for games two and three on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Davies really stood out this spring, leading this rotation with a 1.08 ERA in 16 2/3 innings pitched so the hope is he carries that momentum into the regular season. This group should be able to lead this team to a series victory to get the season going.

The rotation is set and I believe will be a strong suit for this team this year, despite the loss of Yu Darvish. The Pirates are set to roll with Chad Kuhl as their Opening Day starter, but the rest of the rotation is not clear just yet. Kuhl has a career ERA of 4.36 in 360 innings pitched so Hendricks clearly has the upper hand in this matchup.

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The Pirates don’t have the highest expectations for this season and have the worst odds of any team in the NL Central to win the division. The Cubs should not be satisfied if they can’t take two out of three to start the season off.

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As for the rest of this roster, all eyes are going to be on David Bote at second base. With Nico Hoerner left off the roster for service time reasons, the pressure will be on not only Bote, who hit  .302 this spring, but Eric Sogard as well. This was a controversial move made by the Cubs, as Hoerner has stood out and earned the right to make this roster. The hope is that Bote and Sogard will step up and perform before Hoerner gets the call up.

The other eyes for this opening series will be on the bullpen. The biggest question mark is on Craig Kimbrel, who had a suspect spring. He should have save opportunities this series so it will be important for him to lock down his chances and show this team they can trust him early on.

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If Kimbrel and our options at second base can step up and perform, the Cubs won’t have a problem taking care of business this series and getting some positive momentum going into this season. These are the two most important things to look out for this series as we expect the rest of this roster to do what they normally do.