The Chicago Cubs open the 2023 with a three-game series at Wrigley Field. Bring your mittens and balaclavas. See below for the daily matchups, such as they stand. Updates to come as the Cubs announce their starters for games two and three. [Updates made March 31.]
Game 1, March 30, 1:20 pm central
CHC: RHP Marcus Stroman (0-0, -.-- ERA)
MIL: RHP Corbin Burnes (0-0, -.-- ERA)
Stroman had a somewhat disappointing 2022, posting 6-7 record and 3.50 ERA for the season, but finished strong along with the rest of the Cubs' pitching staff. He warmed up for competitive play pitching for Puerto Rico in the WBC--unlike his Brewers' counterpart, who sat out the international competition in favor of staying with his teams' camp. Burnes was stellar again in 2022, despite not matching his otherworldly 2021 performance. He'll surely be hoping to put a good foot forward in another campaign towards Cy Young votes. Dansby Swanson is expected to make his debut in a Cubs' uniform having signed a seven-year contract, and Nico Hoerner is fresh off an extension that bought out one of his free agent years. Former MVP and rebound hopeful Cody Bellinger will likely get a nice pop from the crowd when he is announced in center field as well.
Game 2, April 1, 1:20 pm central
CHC: LHP Justin Steele (0-0, -.--)
MIL: RHP Brandon Woodruff (0-0, -.--)
The 27-year-old Steele had something of a breakthrough in 2022, starting 24 games and recording 3.18 ERA. Steele showed an improved command of the zone and combined solid strikeout numbers with a ground ball percentage just over fifty percent--a reliable recipe for success as long as he maintains those components.
The Brewers will rely on veteran Brandon Woodruff to continue a string of dominant if not always durable seasons dating back to 2019, the first season that Woodruff was able to break into double digit starts in the majors. Cubs fans are familiar with Woodruff's overpowering arsenal, but he will face lineup with significant turnover.
Game 3, April 2, 1:20 pm central
CHC: RHP Jameson Taillon (0-0, -.--)
MIL: LHP Eric Lauer (0-0, -.--)
Taillon joins a crew of veteran free agents making their Cubs debuts at Wrigley. He comes in with a career 51-35 record and 3.84 ERA. Most of the chatter about him this spring training, however, has focused on his addition of a sweeper. He'll finally get a chance to show it off outside of the dry Arizona air.
Eric Lauer matched his season high in starts and slightly past his highest innings per season in 2022. He went 2-0 against the 2022 Cubs and collected 30 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched--his highest marks for both strikeouts and innings pitched against any team in 2022. He'll be missing two contributors that success this time around, however; Frank Schwindel and Seiya Suzuki are a collective 1-14 with 4 strikeouts against him. Schwindel is now with the NPB, and Suzuki will surely get a few more cracks out Lauer after he returns from his current IL stint.