What to expect from Cubs ace Marcus Stroman on Opening Day

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages

It's finally here. The 2023 MLB regular season kicks off Thursday across the league and, for Cubs fans, it's all eyes on the North Siders and right-hander Marcus Stroman, who gets the Opening Day nod from fourth-year manager David Ross.

Stroman will square off with the Milwaukee Brewers and 2021 NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes at Wrigley Field, with first pitch scheduled for 1:20p CT. It marks Stroman's first-ever Opening Day start, always an accomplishment for a pitcher - and one that's well-deserved given how the right-hander finished his 2022 season.

He posted a 2.71 ERA in 14 second-half starts, including a 2.19 mark in a half-dozen September starts. The Cubs are looking for Stroman to anchor the staff again in 2023, with a mix of returners along with offseason addition Jameson Taillon, who looked sharp in his own right this spring.

Cubs Opening Day: What can we expect from Marcus Stroman against the Brewers?

Stroman has had quite a bit of success against the Brewers in his careeer, working to a 2.36 ERA and 0.874 WHIP in five starts. One guy to watch out for is Milwaukee infielder Willy Adames, who has torched the Cubs hurler to the tune of .538 average with a pair of homers and 4 RBI in 13 ABs.

If you're looking at Stroman's performance at home last year, the numbers, at first glance, are quite frightening - a 5.18 ERA in a dozen starts. But he had two starts that really inflated those marks - namely, an April 20 start against the Rays in which he allowed seven earned in just 4 1/3 innings of work and a disastrous June 3 outing against the Cardinals, who tagged him for nine runs in four frames.

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Taking that into account - and considering how sharp he looked this spring - I think Stroman will keep the Cubs in the game. He's a guy built to take advantage of the Cubs' new-look defense. This one may well come down to seeing which offense can scrape out a run or two, especially with overcast skies and temps in the 40s forecasted for first pitch.