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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Monday 4/8, 1:20 CT

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Perhaps things will go better in the Friendly Confines.

Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s home opener will feature the best weather we’ve had for a Wrigley Field opener in many, many years — I can’t recall the last time forecast conditions were this pleasant for an opener. (The rest of this week, though, Chicago weather won’t be as conducive to baseball.)

Home opener notes:

  • Jon Lester will start this year’s home opener after earlier making the start on Opening Day in Texas. Lester also started the Cubs season opener and home opener in 2017. Prior to Lester, Rick Sutcliffe did that in 1985, 1986 & 1988.
  • Lester will be looking to become the first Cub to register the win in the home opener and the road opener in the same season since Pete Alexander in 1922 (April 12 at Cincinnati, April 20 at home also vs. the Reds).
  • The Cubs haven’t done well in home openers in recent years. Over the last 10 seasons (2009-18), the Cubs are 4-6 in the first Wrigley Field game of each season. They won in 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2017. They lost five consecutive home openers from 2011-15 and dropped last year’s, also to the Pirates.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Pirates lineup:

Jon Lester, LHP vs. Jameson Taillon, RHP

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The results of Jon Lester’s two starts this year have been decent enough, though, like most of his pitching teammates, there have been too many walks (3.8 per nine innings, which, if sustained for the entire season, would be his highest rate since 2007). He did, though, pitch six solid innings in both starts and the Cubs really should have won both of them (the bullpen blew the second one).

Last year, Jon made six starts against the Pirates and posted a 3.09 ERA and 1.229 WHIP. The Cubs won five of the six games. Lifetime, Jon has a 3.18 ERA and 1.328 WHIP in 18 starts against the Pirates, and overall current Pirates are hitting .245 (52-for-212) against Jon with five home runs (two by Francisco Cervelli).

Jameson Taillon has also made two starts already this year, a decent outing vs. the Reds and a very good one vs. the Cardinals (seven innings, three hits, one run, no walks, five strikeouts).

Taillon made three starts vs. the Cubs in 2018 and posted a 2.29 ERA and 1.271 WHIP in 19 innings. Javier Baez is a particular nemesis of Taillon’s: 11-for-19 (.579) with four doubles and two home runs. Anthony Rizzo, too: 9-for-20 (.450) with a double and two home runs.

Today’s game is on ABC7 Chicago. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Pirates market territories).

ABC7 will also have a live pregame show featuring Mark Giangreco, Jim Rose, Dionne Miller and Windy City LIVE’s Ryan Chiaverini and Val Warner beginning at noon CT. Among their guests will be native Chicagoan and comedian Jeff Garlin.

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 Pirates site Bucs Dugout. If you do go there to interact with Pirates 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.