Opening Day, April 1st
Chicago Cubs (0-0) at Pittsburgh Pirates (0-0)
The game starts at 1:35 eastern time and will be played at PNC Park. The starting pitcher for the Cubbies will be the hard throwing Jeff Samardzija (0-0). Samardzija, who is from the same town that I grow up in, is the opening day starter because Matt Garza, who was expected to be the ace of the Cubs pitching staff, injured his lat this spring and should be out until May. Samardzija has a great pitching repertoire that includes a mid-90s mph two seam fastball that he throws effectively against righties, a low-90s mph cutter that he uses to attack left-handed batters, a splitter which is his best and go to pitch and he has a slider that can make him be dominant when he throws it effectively. Samardzija tends to struggle when he can’t command his pitches and as a result can give up too many walks to be effective.
Jeff Samardzija’s opposing pitcher will be the long time New York Yankee A.J. Burnett. A.J. Burnett is a right-handed pitcher that mostly uses two pitches to get outs, his mid-90s mph fastball that has some good life to it and his greatest pitch the knuckle curve. Burnett’s knuckle curve is arguably the best knuckle curve in baseball and has proven to be very effective against the Cubs because last year he almost pitched a no-hitter against the Cubbies in Wrigley field. Although Burnett dominated the Cubs last season, he could struggle against the Cubs tomorrow by being wild and hittable if he can’t control his knuckle curve.
Tomorrow’s game will be the first game that Nate Schierholtz will play for the Cubs; he should be starting in right field. Schierholtz will get the start tomorrow over Scott Hairston because there will be a right-handed pitcher on the mound for the Pirates. With A.J. Burnett starting tomorrow, the Cubs will get to take advantage of their solid lineup against righties and with the Cubs having Anthony Rizzo for the whole season this year that gives the Cubbies a great power hitter against righties.
My prediction of the game is that the Cubbies will come out with a victory on the first game with a score of 6 to 2. The Cubs will win because Cubs hitters play well against A.J. Burnett because he’s a fastball pitcher and the Cubs hitters tend to do well against those kinds of pitchers. I especially believe that Starlin Castro will have a strong outing in tomorrow’s game because he has done well against Burnett in the past. Also, I predict that Samardzija pitches a quality start with 9 strikeouts and that we will see the first of Kyuji Fujikawa coming out of the bullpen tomorrow.