Opening Day is upon us, in fact, the Mariners and Athletics already kicked off the season in Japan.
Our Chicago Cubs play their first regular season game this Thursday against the Washington Nationals. The series opens up at Wrigley Field at, of course, 1:20. The starting pitcher for the Cubs will be Ryan Dempster, and he will be opposing the young, but popular, Stephen Strasburg. The Cubs have announced their Opening Day lineup and manager Dale Sveum has chosen new Cub, David DeJesus (RF) to bat first. Darwin Barney (2B), Starlin Castro (SS), and Bryan LaHair (1B) will round out the heart of the order. Alfonso Soriano (LF), Ian Stewart (3B), and Marlon Byrd (CF) will bat 5th, 6th, and 7th. At the bottom of the order, catcher Geovany Soto will bat 8th and Dempster 9th. It is clear the Cubs have a young lineup with a few veteran bats mixed in.
On Saturday, Stephen Strasburg pitched against the St. Louis Cardinals in a tuneup outing before his Opening Day start on Thursday. He pitched four innings and allowed three runs off of five hits. Although Strasburg had a rough outing, his Opening Day pitching opponent seemed to pitch fairly well in his tuneup outing. Dempster pitched against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, throwing four and 2/3 innings. He gave up four hits and one run.
Neither pitcher has had a very good statistical Spring Training. Dempster started five games and had a record of 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA. He allowed twenty hits and seven runs over nineteen and 1/3 innings. Strasburg, on the other hand, started six games this spring. He finished with a record of 1-4 and a 4.18 ERA. With twenty-three and 2/3 innings pitched, Strasburg allowed twenty-three hits and twelve runs, with one of the runs being unearned. Those numbers make it seem that Dempster had a better spring. However, Dempster allowed a batting average of .290 and a WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) of 1.45. Strasburg allowed a .256 BA and a 1.23 WHIP. Those numbers are what I prefer to look at and they tell me that Strasburg had a better spring.
Now neither team, as a whole, have performed very well this spring. The Cubs have a record of 14-16 and the Nationals are 11-15.
Alright, we have looked over the Spring Training stats for the two Opening Day pitchers, looked at the Cubs lineup for Thursday, and checked out the record of each team so far this spring.So which team will win Thursday?
I think the Washington Nationals will defeat our Cubs on Opening Day. I think that the Cubs will have a tough time scoring off of Strasburg. They should hit better off of the Nats bullpen. However, I think the Nats will come out swinging and score early on Dempster, and not so much on the Cubs bullpen. My Opening Day score prediction is 6-4, with the Nationals taking game one.
I don’t think the Cubs will have a bad season, in fact, I think they will do better than expected. However, I don’t think their bats will come alive early on this season.
I hope I’m wrong…
(Feel free to comment with your Opening Day prediction or any other comment you may have)