CHICAGO – Cubs boss David Ross had an empty Wrigley Stadium with injectable noise from the crowd on his first opening day at the helm two years ago. Last year, Friendly Confines was not yet in full swing when the Cubs opened at home.
Finally, Ross will step into the grave of Wrigley Field with the old ballpark packed and prepared for the 2022 season.
“I do not know if it’s a better place I’ve ever been,” Ross said. “And the opening day is special. Beginning of a new journey. It’s exciting. Exciting for the fans, exciting for the players, exciting for me, the coaching staff. Everyone is excited. “
There is no relaxation in the regular season here either, as the Cubs host rival Brewers in a four-game set to launch the campaign.
The Brewers field a reluctant rival in the league and a starting pitcher for Kyle Hendricks, who closed out Milwaukee on three shots on opening day just two years ago. The Cubs pull out the reigning National League Cy Young winner in Corbin Burnes, making the first career opening day begin for the reigning NL Central champions.
“Milwaukee is good,” Ross said, “and has a few horses on the field.
Like a hit player who loves to hit a certain ball field, is there any convenience for a pitcher that returns to a level where success has been achieved?
“Not necessarily,” Burnes said. “For me, it’s going out and taking baseball on a mound of dirt and doing what I can. For me, the football field will not affect. “
Here’s everything you need to know about Cubs and Brewers before opening day:
When is the game and how can I watch it?
The first course is scheduled for 13:20 CT on Thursday and will be available on MLB.TV. The game will be televised on both Bally Sports Wisconsin (for Brewers fans) and the Marquee Sports Network (for Cubs fans), as well as on the MLB Network. Radio broadcasts will be provided by Brewers Radio Network and 670 AM The Score and can be heard on MLB Audio.
The starting lineup
Brewers: Milwaukee’s offense disappeared in the final weeks of 2021, including the NL League game against the Braves, but the team returns largely intact before ’22. The biggest additions were free agent Andrew McCutchen, who mashed left-handers and will serve as a designated striker and individual cornerback, and right-back Hunter Renfroe, who was bought on the trade to replace Avisaíl García. Renfroe should be upgrading defensively thanks to a plus throwing arm, and he is coming off 31 home runs and the best .816 OPS in his career. As usual, the key to Brewers’ attack is left-back Christian Yelich, who is set to return after the least productive period of his career.
Puppies: In recent years, the Cubs’ offense has been marked by names such as Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber. Ever since the last offseason, things have changed dramatically. Willson Contreras is one of the last core components left of the 2016 World Series, but Chicago is still hopeful that the lineup can be a strength. Frank Schwindel (1,002 OPS in the second half) and Patrick Wisdom (28 home runs) were criminals in ’21. Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal should help improve the team’s touch ratio. Newcomer Seiya Suzuki signed a five-year, $ 85 million contract with the Cubs and comes with a mix of power and album discipline. The presence of Yan Gomes, as well as the arrival of DH, should help to get more out of Contreras’ bat. The Cubs consider themselves a great comeback candidate for Clint Frazier. Overall, the North Siders line-up seems to have a variety of ways to create a solid offensive line.
Who are the starting lineup?
Brewers: Burnes gets the saddle over workhorse Brandon Woodruff, who started the last two Open Day games in Milwaukee. Burnes was chosen because he won the NL Cy Young Award, making him the first Brewers poll to be honored since Rollie Fingers and Pete Vuckovich won between 1981-82. Burnes led the MLB last season in the ERA (2.43), the upcoming ERA (2.00), the FanGraphs WAR (7.5), the strikeout (35.6%, the eighth best ever of all time before the preliminaries), K / BB ratio (6.88), FIP (1.63), home run in nine innings (0.38) and barrel ratio (3.1%). He joined Josh Hader on September 11 in Cleveland, but it can be argued that Burnes was even better a month earlier at Wrigley Field, when he struck out 10 in a row in one practice in 15 strokes. He was 2-0 with 1.35 ERA in three starts against the Cubs last season and is 2-1 with 3.55 ERA for his career in 11 games (five starts).
Burnes went over 80 pitches in six innings in his last Cactus League lineup and expects to be ready to approach 100 pitches in his regular season debut.
“I think it’s going to be more about ups,” he said, referring to the number of times he stood up for a new game. “This is something we will continue to build every time we submit.
Regarding the change from 80 degrees in Arizona to the windy, cold Chicago, Burnes said: “Whatever it is, I’m going to take baseball and go out and do what I can.
Puppies: For the third year in a row, the Cubs deliver the ball to Hendricks for the opening day. Hendricks is not only the undisputed leader of the staff, the court was well positioned to deal with a larger amount at the end of the spring training. In 2020, Hendricks got his first opening day after the abbreviated summer camp and then turned a three-stroke penalty against Brewers at Wrigley Field in the opening game on July 24. Hendricks may not be ready for an entire game, but he should be built around 90 pitches.
“It’s just going out and establishing this aggression, confirming the identity,” Hendricks said of setting the tone for the spin. “Last year I did not do well. This year I just want to come in, be aggressive, attack, get behind it, see what happens. “
Last season was uneven for Hendricks, who had 4.77 ERA in his career in 181 games. He had a great stretch between May and August, going 11-0 with 2.79 ERA in 16 rounds. That race was characterized by a difficult start (6.69 ERA in his first seven turns) and a poor finish (7.96 ERA in his last nine away games). This spring, Hendricks focused on improving his fastball control, especially low and far, in an effort to better align the change and career. Hendricks has gone 42-25 with 2.94 ERA in his career at home, but had 5.24 ERA in 17 starts at Friendly Confines ’21. He went 1-1 with 6.14 ERA in four starts against Brewers last year, but has 3.30 ERA in 27 games during his career against Milwaukee.
How could bullpens line up after the starter?
Brewers: For the second season in a row, it’s all up to set designer Devin Williams and Hader, who have teamed up for the last four NL Reliever of the Year awards. Brewers brought back seventh-placed Brad Boxberger on a free transfer after leading the team in games last season, and right-hander Jake Cousins and left-hander Brent Suter are also expected to make a big play. One of the wildcards is left-handed pitcher Aaron Ashby, who plans to bounce between the barrel and spin as needed, and has a plus slide that could be a weapon in large places against difficult left-handed shots.
Puppies: The Cubs have not set closer. Instead, expect Ross to play the match in late-season conditions. Old David Robertson and right-winger Rowan Wick were able to see a rescued area, along with a handful of other weapons. While Hendricks should be able to handle close to the typical workload of a typical beginner out of the chute, the Cubs have a combination of arms that are built to handle relief in multiple outlets. In fact, the division of the season in Chicago is quite fluid after Hendricks and right-winger Marcus Stroman. The kids could consider going on “piggyback” trips and pairing many jugs to chew up a play piece. In the spring, the Cubs added experienced weapons such as Mychal Givens, Chris Martin, Daniel Norris and Jesse Chavez to the group to level out a group of less tested options.
Any injuries to check?
Brewers: Luis Urías expanded over the winter and was on track to start the opening day at third base before being injured on the left ATV in Brewers’ second Spring Training game. It was a notable loss as Urías hit 23 in his career last season.
Puppies: The Cubs demanded that left-hander Wade Miley be exempted from the red during his free time and looked forward to having him as a third-choice starter. An elbow problem put the old soldier in the back of the camp and put him on the shelf to start the season. Short stopper Andrelton Simmons was also left behind in the spring due to a sore left shoulder.
Who is hot and who is not?
Brewers: Hader had an impressive spring where he started with six ups, six downs and six strikes in his first two games in the Cactus League. Of Milwaukee’s regular hit players, McCutchen was arguably the most prolific batsman in the spring, including a two-home performance against the Mariners on March 26 that was notable because both home runs came from the right, Chris Flexen. Est Keston Hiura belted 19 home runs as a rookie in 2019 but has had a difficult time since then. That made his red-hot spring training session, which included four home runs in his first 10 games, “important,” said manager Craig Counsell. Hiura will take bats at first base and maybe at second base and on the left field, a position he had not played since at UC-Irvine University.
Puppies: Suzuki used the spring to begin its adaptation to MLB throws. There were a few dry seasons, but his first two strokes with the Cubs were, appropriately, a high home run. … Robertson was on a delayed spring schedule, but the elder was sharp in his debut in the Cactus League. He gave off two hints, knocked out hits and looked like the weapon the Cubs needed. Wisdom enjoyed two home games, but he also continued to look like he was about to strike out when he made some subtle swing changes. Hendricks finished with an inflated spring ERA (9.53 ERA in four starts this spring), but stated that he was “stubborn” in working on a speed ball project, regardless of success.
Anything else that fans might want to know?
• This is the second time in three years that conditions have led to the opening of the Brewers-Cubs at Wrigley Field. The teams also met there for the first game of the shorter season in 2020, when the coronavirus epidemic pushed the opening day until the end of July. Hendricks scored nine shots and did not break through in a three-stroke shutout for the Cubs’ 3-0 victory, the first Ross as manager. The only other match between the Brewers-Cubs opening day was in 2008 at Wrigley, when Kosuke Fukudome defeated Eric Gagne in the bottom ninth place to force a replay, before the victim fly of Tony Gwynn Jr. in the 10th, the Brewers gave the 4. -3 victory.
• The Brewers won the season last year against the Cubs, 15-4, and defeated the Cubs 124-67.
• The Cubs won the teams’ last match in 2021, denying Brewers a power of attorney. Milwaukee entered that game with a 15-3 record against Chicago in 2021, which equaled the 2019 Brewers for most wins of a season against a single opponent (15-4 against the Pirates ’19). The Brewers also had an 11-game winning streak against the Cubs, the second-longest winning streak of a year against a single club (2008, 12-game series against the Pirates).
• The Cubs enter the series with a plan to include leftist Justin Steele (Friday) and Stroman (Saturday) in Hendricks’ series. It divides right-wingers and also divides the two outstretched arms of the Cubs (Hendricks and Stroman) in terms of number of pitches.