Play Ball! Cardinals-Cubs Opens 2015 Baseball Season
It seems like just days ago that the San Francisco Giants beat the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 for their third World Series title this decade, yet the 2015 Major League Baseball season already is on tap and it opens on ESPN Sunday night with St. Louis visiting the Chicago Cubs. The Cards opened as -111 favorites on Bovada with a total of 7 runs.
One thing viewers will definitely notice is that Wrigley Field is still in the midst of major renovations. There will be no bleachers until at least mid-May. There will be, however, a huge jumbotron scoreboard in left-center field, a first at historic Wrigley. The entire project will take perhaps four more years to finish.
Excitement On North Side
The Cubs have taken more action on World Series futures than any other team — in fact twice as much action. Chicago had a very active offseason, landing former Tampa Bay Rays manger Joe Maddon, perhaps the best in baseball, signing ace pitcher Jon Lester, formerly of the Red Sox and A’s, and trading for center fielder Dexter Fowler (Houston) and catcher Miguel Montero (Arizona). Mostly the excitement is around the young talent Chicago has. There are 2014 All-Stars in shortstop Starlin Castro and first baseman Anthony Rizzo (a 2015 NL MVP candidate) as well as potential Rookie of the Year Jorge Soler in the outfielder. The biggest young star the Cubs have won’t start the season with the big club as that’s Kris Bryant, the 2014 Minor League Player of the Year. He led all players this spring with nine homers but was sent back to Triple-A for a bit more seasoning and for service-time reasons. Bryant should be up with the big club in about three weeks.
Lester will get the call on Sunday. He will likely be limited to a pitch count under 100, which isn’t all that unusual for the first start of the year. Lester dealt with a fatigued arm in spring training but pitched Tuesday without any problems, although he wasn’t very sharp.
“Once we get to a game with some fans and some adrenaline I think things will sharpen up a little bit,” Lester said. “We’ll figure it out. This game is built on adjustments.”
What else is Lester looking forward to? A hit. Lester, who has spent nine seasons in the American League with the Red Sox and Athletics, has yet to get a hit in 36 at-bats.
Who Else But Wainwright?
Adam Wainwright gets the call for St. Louis. Wainwright, who finished his final spring training start Tuesday, posted a 20-9 record in 2014 with a 2.38 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 227 innings. He dealt with a slight abdominal strain early in camp, capping him at just three starts in spring training. Wainwright made five starts against the Cubs last year, going 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA. Rizzo is 9-for-27 in his career off Wainwright with a home run. Castro is 9-for-37 with four RBIs.
Sunday also will be the debut of new Cardinals right fielder, the team’s big offseason trade acquisition from Atlanta for good young pitcher Shelby Miller.
The Cardinals are +130 favorites at Bovada to win the NL Central while the Cubs are +300. To win the pennant, the Cards are +600 and Cubs +700.
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