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Chicago Cubs vs. Texas Rangers preview, Sunday 3/31, 3:05 CT

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The Cubs go for the series win.

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Couple of quick Sunday notes, then it’s on to game information.

  • The Cubs begin the 2019 season with one rookie (Mark Zagunis) on the Opening Day roster for the second-straight season (Victor Caratini in 2018). A rookie has played for the Cubs on Opening Day in 16 of the previous 23 seasons from 1996-2018, with 1996, 1999, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2016 and 2017 being those exceptions. (H/T: Ed Hartig)
  • With the Brewers and Cardinals opening the season against each other to open the season, there is still a chance for the best possible result for that series: a split. The Brewers won two of the first three. For best results, don’t root for the Cardinals to win today. Instead, root for the Brewers to lose. Those two teams, as I have noted here previously, will play six more times over the next 18 days.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Rangers lineup:

Cole Hamels, LHP vs. Lance Lynn, RHP

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Just as we had Saturday, here we have a matchup of a former Ranger against a guy the Cubs saw often when he was in the N.L. Central.

Cole Hamels was outstanding for the Cubs down the stretch in 2018, and that’s why Theo Epstein exercised Hamels’ $20 million option. Hamels is 35, but shows signs of being rejuvenated. Hopefully that lasts all year.

He has faced the Rangers just once in his career, and that was 11 years ago, so it has zero predictive value. (The only other player who played in that game who is still active is Ian Kinsler.)

More important, and potentially worrisome, was Hamels’ record at Globe Life Park in 2018, a record so bad it likely made the Rangers more interested in dealing him. He had a 6.41 ERA in 10 starts there last year, with 16 (!) home runs allowed in 59 innings. Hopefully, he’s made adjustments that will fix that for today’s game.

Current Rangers are hitting .210 (13-for-62) against him. Fully half of those at-bats are by Hunter Pence (8-for-31), who was Hamels’ teammate in Philadelphia in 2011 and 2012.

Lance Lynn! Ol’ buddy! Here is the last start Lynn made against the Cubs, July 1, 2018 at Wrigley Field. He didn’t make it out of the second inning and the Cubs pounded him for seven runs, including a three-run homer by Jon Lester, of all people.

Lynn was better after that and had a decent 11-game tenure with the Yankees, before signing with the Rangers as a free agent.

Overall current Cubs are hitting .278 (27-for-97) against Lynn with five home runs. Anthony Rizzo, in particular, has feasted on him, hitting .353 (12-for-34) against him with two homers.

Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago. It’s also on ESPN (outside the Chicago and Dallas 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 Rangers site Lone Star Ball. If you do go there to interact with Rangers 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 2019 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used in previous years. 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.