Keys to success for Cubs ace Marcus Stroman on Friday against Texas

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The last time Marcus Stroman took the mound at Wrigley Field, he set the tone for the Cubs in a 4-0 Opening Day victory over Milwaukee, the franchise's first March win in Friendly Confines history.

The right-hander tossed six scoreless innnings against a Brewers team that's proven to be a potent offensive club in the early going, tying his Cubs career-high with eight punchouts. Now, he'll take the ball in the series opener against a loaded Texas Rangers club looking to return to the postseason for the first time since 2016.

Texas is off to a 4-2 start, tied for first in the AL West, and they've won despite a lack of major production from its middle infield tandem of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. Rookie Josh Jung is scorching hot, though, with a 1.011 OPS through six games and catcher Mitch Garver has been even better, with an 1.186 mark.

The Rangers rank 13th among MLB teams in terms of OPS and the rotation has been a mixed bag. Where they've been untouchable though, is in the bullpen. Texas relievers carry a 0.73 ERA into this weekend's series in Chicago, holding opponents to a .134 average in 24 2/3 innings.

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The Cubs will look to Stroman to help get them back to .500 on the year on Friday afternoon - and to do so, we've got a few keys to the game for the right-hander - first being his track record against Semien.

The Texas second baseman has torched Stroman in his career, hitting .538 in 14 at-bats. The good news, I suppose, is he hasn't taken him deep or driven in any runs. But any time you're batting north of .500 against a guy, both you and he are very well aware of that fact.

Brad Miller has seen Stroman a ton, as well, with 39 career at-bats against him - so it's safe to say these guys are very familiar with one another. For Stroman to be successful, on the whole, he'll need to do what he did in his first start: mix his pitches, hit his spots and take advantage of the defense behind him.

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Keeping the ball out of the air (something he did very well on Opening Day), getting ahead in the count and relying heavily on that sinker of his should be a recipe for success for the Cubs ace on Friday.