2021 Chicago Cubs: Home Opener Series Preview

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2021 Chicago Cubs: Home Opener Series Preview
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MAY 03: Willson Contreras #40, Anthony Rizzo #44 and Kyle Hendricks #28 of the Chicago Cubs celebrate the 4-0 win against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on May 03, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

The 2021 Chicago Cubs are set to begin another season of North Side baseball against a century-plus old rival, the Pittsburgh Pirates. On April Fool’s Day and the subsequent weekend, the two will meet at Wrigley Field.

Matchup History

The two clubs have met a whopping 2,526 times in the regular season. Alas, the Pirates have prevailed in a majority of those contests with a .511 winning percentage. So, if history is any indication, the Bucs are the favorites in this series.

But recent events might be a better barometer. In the abbreviated 2020 season, the Cubs won six of their ten contests. In the last full season, the Cubs, likewise, took a majority of the games, winning 11 of 19. And, of course, Chicago prevailed in the only playoff meeting (2015) between the two.

2021 Chicago Cubs Home Opener Series Pitching Matchups

(statistics listed are from 2020)

Thursday, April 1

1:20 PM, TV: MSN, AT&T Sportsnet

Probable starting pitchers: Kyle Hendricks (2.88 ERA, 0.996 WHIP) vs. Mitch Keller (2.91 ERA, 1.246 WHIP)

Kyle Hendricks has been nothing short of dominant at home. Expect the Professor to display his typical level of control to limit the Bucs offensively. The open-ended question will be just how much run production the Cubs offense will put on the board. If spring training was any indication, the 2021 Chicago Cubs offense will support their starting pitchers.

Saturday, April 3

1:20 PM, TV: MSN, AT&T Sportsnet

Probable starting pitchers: Zach Davies (2.73 ERA, 1.067 WHIP) vs. Tyler Anderson (4.37 ERA, 1.391 WHIP)

While most fans would surely rather have Yu Darvish pitching, the player the Cubs received in exchange is a solid starter in his own right. Davies will make his Cubs debut in this series.

One question that might be of particular interest to the Cubs faithful: Will Javy Baez return to form or continue from his lackluster 2020 performance after avoiding arbitration? The shortstop seems to feed off crowds, so as fans are permitted to attend games, it is likely that Baez will improve.

Sunday, April 4

1:20 PM, TV: MSN, AT&T Sportsnet

Probable starting pitchers: Jake Arrieta (5.08 ERA, 1.511 WHIP) vs. Chad Kuhl (4.27 ERA, 1.360 WHIP)

Jake Arrieta had a difficult start to his big league career, posting a 5.46 ERA in 69 games with Baltimore when Chicago next took a chance on him. In four and half seasons, Arrieta posted other-worldly numbers, including perhaps the best half-season ever. In that second half of 2015, Arrieta posted a 0.750 ERA and.148 opponents’ batting average. Since leaving Chicago, the righty struggled again, sporting a 4.36 ERA and 1.387 WHIP. Hopes are medium (not exactly high) that Arrieta can return to his Chicago form.

Injuries

Cubs

Pirates

Series Prediction

With 24 players returning to the 2021 Chicago Cubs organization who appeared for the team in 2020, the club can expect some level of continuity from last year and contend for another Central Division title.

The Pirates have 27 players from their 2020 campaign returning to the organization for 2021. This does not exactly bode well, as last season’s Bucs finished dead last in Major League Baseball.

With the vast majority of 2020 Cubs players returning, look for Chicago to win the opening series and start their 150th season of baseball on top.


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main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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