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Chicago Cubs vs. Miami Marlins preview, Thursday 3/29, 11:40 a.m. CT

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At last, we have arrived at the 2018 major league baseball season!

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Happy Opening Day! Excited? I guess I know the answer to that question, but as I wrote yesterday, I think I’m even more excited for the start of this season than I was in 2016. Let’s play ball!

After a productive and fun spring training, the Cubs appear 100 percent prepared to take on the 2018 season.

And although they are facing a team that could be the worst in the major leagues this year, they are certainly not taking anything for granted:

Losing road series to the Giants, Phillies and Padres made the Cubs’ mission tougher last season, and they realize they can’t take the depleted Marlins or Reds for granted as they try to get off to a fast start in 2018.

“We might have fallen into that trap of, ‘OK, we’ll turn it on and be good,’ ” Cubs left-hander Mike Montgomery said. “That’s a tough way to go about it.”

From the Cubs this morning:

Without further ado, here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Marlins lineup:

Jon Lester vs. Jose Urena

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Lester had a good spring, with a 2.81 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 16 spring innings. He’s hoping to rebound after a mediocre 2017 season. He posted a 5.8 bWAR season in 2016 and it would be great if he could get back to that level after an 0.7 bWAR year last year, but even matching the 2.7 bWAR season he had in 2015 would be fine.

As you might expect for a team this anonymous, Lester hasn’t faced too many of the current Marlins, who are a small-sample-size 13-for-44 (.295) against him. Martin Prado is 6-for-17 (.438) with three doubles.

Jose Urena had a solid, 2.0 bWAR season for the Marlins last year, with a 3.81 ERA and 1.273 WHIP. He led the major leagues in hit batters with 14, for whatever that’s worth.

The Cubs have faced him three times, once in 2015 and twice last year. He threw six shutout innings against them last June 23 in Miami. No Cub has more than six career at-bats against him; Ian Happ and Jason Heyward have homered off him.

Today’s game is on WGN. It’s also being carried nationally on ESPN (outside the Chicago and Miami markets).

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Marlins site Fish Stripes. If you do go there to interact with Marlins 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 2018 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2017. 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.