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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals Preview, Sunday 4/2, 7:35 CT

Here. We. Go.

2016 world series trophy
The defense of this beautiful piece of hardware begins
Al Yellon

ON THE ROAD TO ST. LOUIS -- I won't be in St. Louis in time for this one, but will be there to see the games Tuesday and Wednesday.

I don't think there's anything I can do to hype this game more than you're already hyped for it. So let's move on to tonight's particulars. Hope you like the new, improved 2017 format for starting pitcher photos.

Cubs lineup:

Schwarber LF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist RF, Russell SS, Heyward CF, Contreras C, Lester P, Baez 2B

Cardinals lineup:

Fowler CF, Diaz SS, Carpenter 1B, Peralta 3B, Molina C, Piscotty RF, Gyorko 2B, Grichuk LF, Martinez P

Jon Lester vs. Carlos Martinez

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

One of the reasons Joe Maddon chose Jon Lester to be his Opening Day starter is his excellent career record against the Cardinals. Last year in three starts he posted an 0.87 ERA and 0.677 WHIP in 20⅔ innings, with three walks and 21 strikeouts. Additionally, he has an 0.82 ERA and 0.727 WHIP in three career regular-season starts at Busch Stadium (four walks and 21 strikeouts in 22 innings). Lastly, as a hitter he's 2-for-9 lifetime at Busch with only one K. He's the perfect pitcher to throw in this game.

Carlos Martinez posted a 5.4 bWAR season in 2016, although the Cubs were pretty tough on him. He posted a 4.80 ERA and 1.433 WHIP in four starts against the Cubs last year. That included 13 walks and four home runs allowed in 30 innings. Anthony Rizzo has homered three times off Martinez in 26 career at-bats against him and Jason Heyward is 7-for-17 (.412) against him. Perhaps that will be the key to a good start of the season for J-Hey.

Today's game is on ESPN.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Cardinals site Viva El Birdos. If you do go there to interact with Cardinals fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

The 2017 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2016. Here's how it works.

You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).

At the same time, a StoryStream containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in the game's StoryStream as noted above.

The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.