Jon Lester has been the Cubs’ Opening Day starter three of the last four seasons (Jake Arrieta earned the nod in 2016).
And now, he’ll make that four out of five:
As expected, Joe Maddon announces Jon Lester will be the Opening Day starter for the Cubs.— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) March 4, 2019
The question remains, though: Who will follow Lester, in what order? The Cubs open against the Rangers in Texas, and the team has two former Rangers (Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish) on the roster. So maybe that would be the way to go, Hamels and Darvish (or Darvish, then Hamels) against their former team.
On the other hand, Hamels was horrific in Globe Life Park last year — one of the reasons the Rangers were willing to deal him. He had a 6.41 ERA in 59 innings there in 2018, with 16 (!) home runs allowed. It wasn’t much better in 2017: 4.35 ERA in 70 innings. Thus maybe it’s better to hold Hamels back and have him start the first game in Atlanta.
Darvish, though, pitched very well in Texas over his career. So what I think I’d do is have Darvish start the season’s second game Saturday, March 30, then have Kyle Hendricks go on March 31 against the Rangers.
Now, that would wind up throwing three lefties against the Braves — Hamels, Jose Quintana and Lester. Last year the Braves were 21-26 vs. LH starters (69-46 vs. RH starters), so that might just be the best way to start off the 2019 season.