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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Marlins series preview

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Opening Day: Tomorrow!

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — You are certainly familiar with the Marlins’ teardown over the winter. Gone are important players from last year: Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon. In fact, one of the few Marlins you’ll probably recognize is former Cub Starlin Castro.

To get a bit more insight into this team, I asked Aram Leighton of our SB Nation Marlins site Fish Stripes to tell us a bit more about the Marlins.

The Miami Marlins are undergoing a transitional phase as we head into the 2018 season. Of course, new ownership as a Derek Jeter-headlined group purchased the team from longtime owner, Jeffrey Loria and an overhaul of the team’s roster that saw its entire outfield and second baseman traded.

Some key returning players are Justin Bour, J.T. Realmuto, Jose Urena, Dan Straily and Martin Prado. While the Marlins have a lot of ground to make up with the trading away of one of baseball’s best outfields, there is a lot for fans to be excited about too. Lewis Brinson, one of baseball’s top prospects, enjoyed a phenomenal spring and is poised to start for the Fish. Projected starting third baseman Brian Anderson got a taste of the big leagues last year and mashed 22 home runs in the minors last season. The Marlins also acquired top prospects Sandy Alcantara, Monte Harrison, Jorge Guzman, among others, that give fans some hope for the future.

The Marlins are young at the core, but balanced with some veteran leadership that could make things interesting in 2018.

Fun fact

This is the second time the Cubs have opened the season against the Marlins in Florida. The other time was in 1998, when the Cubs took two of three from the then defending World Series champions.

Pitching matchups (2017 records)

Thursday: Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33 ERA, 1.323 WHIP, 4.10 FIP) vs. Jose Urena (14-7, 3.82 ERA, 1.273 WHIP, 5.20 FIP)

Friday: Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.03 ERA, 1.189 WHIP, 3.88 FIP) vs. Caleb Smith (0-1, 7.71 ERA, 1.661 WHIP, 5.62 FIP)

Saturday: Yu Darvish (10-12, 3.86 ERA, 1.163 WHIP, 3.83 FIP) vs. Odrisamer Despaigne (2-3, 4.01 ERA, 1.389 WHIP, 4.15 FIP)

Sunday: Jose Quintana (11-11, 4.15 ERA, 1.224 WHIP, 3.68 FIP) vs. Dillon Peters (1-2, 5.17 ERA, 1.628 WHIP, 4.69 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Thursday: 11:40 a.m. CT, WGN, ESPN (outside the Chicago and Miami markets)

Friday: 6:10 p.m. CT, WGN

Saturday: 6:10 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago

Sunday: 12:10 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago Plus

Prediction

Predicting sweeps is bad form, for a number of reasons, so I won’t do it.

But look at those pitching matchups. Two of the four Marlins starters have almost no MLB experience. You might recognize Caleb Smith’s name — he was in Cubs camp in 2017 as a Rule 5 guy, before he was returned to the Yankees, who eventually traded him to the Marlins.

So the Cubs really ought to win three of four here — at the very least. So that’s what I’ll go with, three of four.

And I certainly wouldn’t be unhappy with a sweep.

Up next

The Cubs travel to Cincinnati for a two-game series which begins Monday afternoon.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Marlins?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    4
    (222 votes)
  • 48%
    3
    (251 votes)
  • 6%
    2
    (33 votes)
  • 1%
    1
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    0
    (3 votes)
516 votes total Vote Now