The spectacle that is opening day is behind us and we can really start to sink our teeth into the new baseball season. Part of the MLB schedule for Friday, March 30, includes the Chicago Cubs visiting the Miami Marlins. Not surprisingly, the Cubs are heavy favorites in this game. The Chicago Cubs are -220 over the Miami Marlins on Friday.
The Cubs took the first game of this four-game set on Thursday, winning 8-4. Chicago jumped out to an early lead, scoring three runs in the first inning, including a leadoff home run from Ian Happ. But the young Marlins showed some fight, scoring four runs off Jon Lester and chasing him from the game in the 4th inning.
However, once Lester left, Chicago’s bullpen locked things down. Five relievers combined for 5.2 shutout innings, giving the Cubs a chance to put some runs on the board. The Cubs scored three runs in the 7th to get some breathing room to secure the win.
The visiting Cubs will send Kyle Hendricks to the mound Friday night. Hendricks has arguably been Chicago’s most consistent over the last three years. He is coming off a season in which he posted a 3.03 ERA. Hendricks should give the Cubs a quality start, which will be important after how much they used their bullpen on Thursday.
Kendricks also has a great deal of success against the Marlins. Miami’s current roster is just 10 for 46 against him. The only Marlins player with a home run against Hendrick is Justin Bour, who is 1 for 8 with five strikeouts against the Chicago righty.
Opposing Kendricks on Friday will be rookie Caleb Smith. The 26-year old lefty was acquired by the Marlins in a trade with the Yankees over the offseason. He made two starts and seven relief appearances for the Yankees last year, posting a 7.71 ERA in 18.2 innings. Smith also had a rather uninspired spring, pitching to a 5.21 ERA in 19 innings of work. Nevertheless, he’s Miami’s no. 2 starter to start the season.
Smith will undoubtedly have his work cut out for him against the Cubs, whose lineup is as deep as any team in baseball. After scoring five runs in four innings against Marlins ace Jose Urena on Thursday, the Cubs will no doubt have confidence that they can do the same to the young lefty and once again for Miami to use their bullpen early in the game.
If there’s one sign of hope for Smith it’s that Chicago’s lineup features plenty of lefties, including Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, and Kyle Schwarber. That being said, the Cubs do have depth and switch hitters like Happ and Ben Zobrist to counter a lefty like Smith.
Another Long Day?
This is just the start of what could be a long season for the Marlins, and the second game of the season may not go much better than the first. Despite some promising signs against Lester on Thursday, don’t expect the Marlins to have much success against Hendricks. At the same time, it’s tough to envision Smith keeping Chicago’s lineup contained two or three times through the order. Even at -220, the Cubs are a worthwhile pick and a safe bet. Bet on the Chicago Cubs -220 over the Miami Marlins on Friday.