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Cubs vs. Mariners at Mesa preview, Monday 2/26, 2:05 CT

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The Cubs play the first of four straight home games Monday afternoon.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Here, perhaps, is one of the biggest reasons the Cubs bullpen was so gassed at the end of the 2017 posteseason:

Because of injuries and ineffectiveness, no Cubs starter pitched 200 or more innings last season, and the rotation totaled 888 1/3 innings — 100 2/3 fewer than the 2016 rotation pitched on the way to a World Series title.

Only one Cubs starter — Jon Lester — threw 200 innings in 2016. But three others came close — Jake Arrieta, 197⅓, Kyle Hendricks, 190, and John Lackey, 188⅓. And Arrieta would have easily gone over 200 in 2016 if not for the Cubs’ early clinching and the team trying to rest him for the postseason.

No Cubs starter in 2017 threw even as many innings as Lackey did in 2016. And obviously, that put stress on the bullpen.

So, two things are happening here. The Cubs starters, as noted in that link, are going to do their best to get to 200 innings. And the Cubs significantly improved their bullpen for this year.

Today, the Cubs will begin starting the five men who should make up the Opening Day rotation.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Almora CF, Baez 2B, Rizzo 1B, Russell SS, Heyward RF, Caratini C, Navarro DH, Bourjos LF, Vosler 3B

Kris Bryant was in the original lineup but was scratched due to illness. Doesn’t sound like anything serious.

Mariners lineup:

Gordon CF, Romine 3B, Perkins DH, Lake LF, Nieuwenheis RF, Motter 3B, Hague 1B, Freitas C, Beckham 2B

Well now, there are a couple of familiar names. It’s our old friend Junior Lake — batting cleanup, no less. And Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who hit the Cubs really well when he was with the Mets and Brewers, now trying to catch on in Seattle.

One old friend we won’t see today is Dan Vogelbach, who is out with a foot injury.

Tyler Chatwood gets the start for the Cubs. Cubs relievers for today: Brian Duensing, Steve Cishek, Anthony Bass, Craig Brooks, Alberto Baldonado and David Garner.

Felix Hernandez will go for the Mariners. Other Mariners pitchers scheduled: Dan Altavilla, Shawn Armstrong, Max Povse, James Pazos and Ljay Newsome. (Note: Those last three names are not misspelled.)

Today’s game is on cubs.com with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie.

MLB.com Gameday

Please note that during spring training, Gameday doesn't usually go pitch-by-pitch as it does during the regular season -- usually, it will update after each at-bat.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

Please visit our SB Nation Mariners site Lookout Landing. If you do go there to interact with Mariners 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.

For spring-training games, we'll have a first-pitch thread at five minutes to game time and one overflow thread, 90 minutes after game time (because I know how you all like overflow threads!). For today, that will be 2 p.m. CT and 3:30 p.m. CT.

These threads will not post individually onto the front page; instead, you can find links to them in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page. There will also be a StoryStream on the front page with all the game thread links, as well as the recap after the game is over. The pitcher boxes and regular-season stats will return on Opening Day.

Discuss amongst yourselves.