Cubs Opening Road Trip Predictions
|Tuesday, March 27, 2018, 10:20 AM- -|
CHICAGO -- Before the Cubbie faithful can pack Wrigley Field on April 9th, the Cubs will have to take on a ten game road trip to open the 2018 season. The Cubs will visit Miami, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee in eleven days before returning home to Wrigley where they went 48-33 in 2017.
The Cubs and Marlins will play the first major league game of 2018 on March 29th at 11:40 am CDT. Jon Lester will get the ball against 26-year-old Jose Urena to open the season. To put it as nicely as possible, the Marlins won’t be contenders in the National League East this year. Since the shocking death of ace Jose Fernandez in 2016, the Marlins have been in a downward spiral. They traded away super slugger Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees and sent Dee Gordon to Seattle, downsizing their already weak offense. They will rely heavily on Derek Dietrich, Justin Bour, and former Cub favorite Starlin Castro to carry the offense. I would expect Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, and Jose Quintana to make easy work of the Marlins order in the four-game series. With Miami still not having set their full starting rotation for the upcoming season, it’s difficult to predict pitching matchups. While the Cubs will be opening on the road, it shouldn’t be a struggle as I expect the Cubs to leave Miami with an impressive 4-0 start.
Following Miami, the Cubs will head to Cincinnati for a brief two-game series. We will get to see Tyler Chatwood’s debut as a Cub on April 2nd, likely against Amir Garrett. We will then get to see Lester again as he will likely face Tyler Mahle. The only legitimate threat on offense the Reds pose is first baseman Joey Votto. The rest of the lineup shouldn’t be a problem for Cubs pitchers. Pair the favorable pitching matchups and the subpar Reds offense with the Cubs recent history of success at Great American Ballpark; I would expect the Cubs to pick up two more wins in Cincinnati, improving to 6-0.
The Cubs will get a day off before heading north to start a four-game series in Milwaukee. Hendricks through Chatwood should get the ball in these games. The Brewers will have their two through five starters taking the mound as well, assuming they stick with a five-man rotation. The Brew Crew has the best offense the Cubs will have seen at this point. They rely on their power coming from the duo of Travis Shaw and Ryan Braun (STEROIDS!), along with four more guys in the lineup who hit .272 or better in 2017. With strong strikeout pitchers in Darvish, Quintana, and Chatwood getting the ball in three of four games, that should limit the Brewers from playing small ball to score. While Wrigley North will be lined with Cubbie blue for the series, it is still four road games. Though it is still possible to get the sweep, I’m only picking the Cubs to split this series 2-2 with the Brewers. It’s a very different Milwaukee team than we’ve seen in the past and will undoubtedly give the Cubs some trouble the first time around.
If the Cubs can come home to Wrigley 8-2, it will be a great start to the season. It’s always hard to play on the road no matter who you are up against. I have confidence that the Cubs will start hot, given they will wake up hungry instead of hungover from last season.