What to watch for in this weekend’s Cubs-Brewers series
By Thomas Erbe
Baseball is back. At long last, the Chicago Cubs are ready to kick off the 2022 regular season – and they’re doing so in a big way with a four-game set against the defending NL Central champs.
Last year, the Milwaukee Brewers dominated their I-94 rivals to the tune of a 14-5 record as the Cubs battled through one of the hardest seasons (both physically and emotionally) in almost a decade. The calendar has turned over, the stage is set and the start to the 2022 Cubs’ campaign will be a turning of the page.
Cubs face a tough test right out of the gates in the rival Brewers
- Thursday: Corbin Burns vs Kyle Hendricks (1:20p CT)
- Friday: Brandon Woodruff vs Justin Steele (1:20p CT)
- Saturday: Freddie Peralta vs Marcus Stroman (1:20p CT)
- Sunday: TBD vs Drew Smyly (1:20p CT)
We’re poised to see a handful of familiar faces, several guys who stepped in down the stretch last year and an influx of new names on the Opening Day roster.
Kyle Hendricks will get his third consecutive Opening Day start and will be looking to return to his dominant ways against reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes. Expect Chicago’s new double play duo, Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal, to get plenty of action with Hendricks’ groundball-heavy tendencies.
Left-hander Justin Steele is going to get a real shot to be in this rotation all year, beginning with his first start of the year on Friday afternoon. Of course, Marcus Stroman will make his long awaited debut for the Cubs on Saturday.
To say the starting lineup will look different than what we saw on Opening Day 2021 is putting it mildly. The aforementioned Madrigal could be a long-sought answer to the hole at leadoff the Cubs have not been able to fill since Dexter Fowler’s departure. Frank Schwindel will get his first chance as an everyday guy for a full season and Patrick Wisdom looks to build on a powerful second half in the heart of the lineup.
Ian Happ and Jason Heyward look to have bounceback years at the plate after forgettable 2021 campaigns. All eyes will be on Rookie of the Year frontrunner Seiya Suzuki in his first year stateside. All this while an undeniable tension remains between the front office and two-time All-Star catcher Willson Contreras, who is entering his final year of team control. Just like last year, prepare for this storyline to remain until one of three things happens: Contreras is extended, traded or the season ends.
This is as wide open as expectations have been for the Cubs in a long time. This team could win 70 games or 90 games and no one would be overly surprised. It would be hard to ask the team to sweep the defending division champs and a split would be a tremendous start for this team. But Wrigley Field is a magical place, especially on Opening Weekend.
Want your voice heard? Join the Cubbies Crib team!
The weather is expected to be cold and rainy. Those conditions don’t fare too well for a team that plays inside a big warehouse with a slide, I’m just saying.