Posted: 4/2/2017 6:27:58 AM
The 2016 Cubs won the NL Central (by 17.5 games over the Cardinals) for the first time since 2008, made it back to the World Series for the first time since 1945, and won the Fall Classic for the first time since 1908. Chicago's 103 regular-season wins were its most since 1910 (104 wins).The 2016 Cardinals finished 10 games over .500 for the ninth consecutive season, but missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Last season's Cardinals led the National League with 225 (2nd most in franchise history -- 235 in 2000), and had a franchise-record six different players with 20+ home runs.The Cubs won the season series with the Cardinals last season, 10-9. It was the first time Chicago had won the season series with St. Louis since 2010 (9-6), and the first time the Cubs had won 10+ games against the Cardinals in a single season since 2007 (11-5). The Cubs won six of the nine meetings at Busch Stadium last season.Jon Lester in 2016 won a World Championship, was named the NLCS co-MVP, made his fourth All-Star Game, tied his career high with 19 wins (also 19 in 2010 with Boston) and had a career-low 2.44 ERA. Lester finished second to Max Scherzer for the NL Cy Young. This will be Lester's sixth Opening Day assignment, and second with the Cubs is manager Joe Maddon's choice to start the opener. He has been effective in nine career starts against the Cardinals, posting a 1.97 earned run average despite going only 3-3. That doesn't include two World Series wins against the Cardinals in 2013 when he worked for the Boston Red Sox.This will be Carlos Martinez's first Opening Day start. Martinez won a career-high 16 games in 2016. Martinez is one of six pitchers with 30+ wins in the NL over the last two seasons (Arrieta, Scherzer, Bumgarner, Greinke and Lester).Manager Mike Matheny opted to go with him, a message that the club knows Martinez has evolved from pure thrower to growing pitcher.But Martinez hasn't always found success against the Cubs, going 3-3 with a 4.67 earned run average in 19 games, nine as a starter.
Chi. Cubs Ganar