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Yu Darvish could already be on target to be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter

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Here’s how that could happen.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

About 10 days ago, I wrote this article promoting Yu Darvish to be the Cubs Opening Day starter March 26 against the Brewers. Jon Lester has been the Opening Day starter four of the last five years (all but 2016, when Jake Arrieta got the honor), but I believe Darvish’s strong finish to 2019 rates him as the guy to lead off the 2020 season. 71 percent of voters in the poll attached to that article agreed.

Looks like that very well might be the case, according to this Mark Gonzales article in the Tribune:

Darvish will throw live batting practice Monday before making his Cactus League debut later this week. Jon Lester will face the Rockies on Tuesday, followed by Kyle Hendricks on Wednesday against the Royals.

The Cubs haven’t made a formal announcement about the rotation. The current plan is for starters to throw only one inning in their spring debuts, but pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said Darvish — who had a 2.76 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 81⅔ innings in the second half last year — will pitch two innings in his debut.

With Darvish throwing live BP today, that would put him on target to start Saturday against the Brewers at Sloan Park. Tyler Chatwood, who threw an inning against the Dodgers Sunday, could then start Thursday against the Rangers in Surprise. And as for Jose Quintana?

Quintana was scheduled to pitch live batting practice Sunday until he experienced flu-like symptoms.

Oops. Whatever manager David Ross has might be going around the clubhouse. Perhaps Quintana could still go Friday against the Padres in Peoria.

If the lineup noted above continues through the spring, the initial rotation order could be Darvish, Lester, Hendricks, Chatwood and Quintana. There are also two off days this spring that Ross could use to readjust things, if needed.

But it does seem likely that Darvish will get the call March 26 in Milwaukee.