After a long, tumultuous offseason that saw a 99-day lockout push back the start of the season, we’ve finally made it to Opening Day 2022! The Crew kick off the 2022 campaign with a four-game set against division rival Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Brewers won the season series last year, 15-4.
The Brewers come into the opening series with high hopes for the season. The reigning NL Central champs return one of the best starting rotations in baseball, with 2021 NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes taking the mound in game one. Offseason additions Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe will look to add some power to a lineup that was below average in production last season.
The Cubs, on the other hand, enter 2022 fresh off a season that saw them finish fourth in the division. With franchise players such as Javier Báez, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber all gone, there are more questions than answers going into the season. Recent additions of Japanese star Seiya Suzuki, shortstop Andrelton Simmons, and starters Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley show they still intend to be contenders.
As I mentioned above, the lineup looks largely the same as last season. Kolton Wong is still slated to lead off the Brewers lineup. Wong slashed .272/.335/.447 and had an OPS+ of 108, one of the highest of his career. The newly minted DH position will be held by Andrew McCutchen and look for Hunter Renfroe to get his first start with the Brewers in right field. Finally, Jace Pederson will get the nod at third with Luis Urías starting the season on the IL due to a quad injury.
The new-look Cubs begin the season with a lineup trying to find its identity. With veteran anchors like Bryant and Rizzo gone, they will look at players like Frank Schwindel and Nico Hoerner to provide consistency in the lineup. Schwindel hit .342/389/.613 in 56 games last year, while Hoerner had an OBP of .382 and a SO% of just 14.7%. Their ability to make contact and get on base will be crucial to the Cubs' success this season, as they led the league in strikeouts and were 20th in OBP. Offseason pickup Suzuki will start the year batting 6th.
Thursday, 1:20 pm CT - Corbin Burnes vs Kyle Hendricks
Everything that can be said about Corbin Burnes has already been said. Burnes is coming off the best season of his career where he posted a 0.94 WHIP and 2.43 ERA. The 2021 Cy Young winner looks to replicate the success he had the last time he pitched in Chicago when he struck out 15 in eight innings of work.
Kyle Hendricks takes the mound for the third consecutive Opening Day. Hendricks looks to rebound after a rough 2021 in which saw a career-high 4.77 ERA in 181 innings. Hendricks has had success against the Brewers, however, posting a 3.30 ERA in 27 games.
Friday, 1:20 pm CT - Brandon Woodruff vs Justin Steele
The 29-year-old Mississippi native is coming into 2022 following a season that saw career bests in SO (211), WHIP (0.965), FIP (2.96) and ERA (2.56). Last time out against the Cubs Woodruff struggled, lasting only three innings and giving up one run on 74 pitches.
Steele appeared in 20 games last season for the Cubs. In 57 innings pitched, the lefty posted a 4.26 ERA and 1.351 WHIP.
Saturday, 1:20 pm CT - Freddy Peralta vs Marcus Stroman
Freddy Peralta showed he could do more than just bring the heat in 2021. His introduction of a slider and changeup made him a breakout star last season. Peralta got the win his last time out against the Cubs, striking out eight in 5 ⅓ innings.
Marcus Stroman joined the North Siders this offseason right before the lockout. He is coming off a season that saw a career-high in K/9 (7.94) and his lowest opponent OPS since 2015.
Sunday, 1:20 pm CT - TBA vs Drew Smyly
The Brewers currently don’t have anyone listed as their Game 4 starters. Look for either Adrian Houser or Eric Lauer to be on the for he Crew.
Drew Smyly was a member of the World Series champion Atlanta Braves last season before coming to Chicago via free agency. Smyly had a 4.48 ERA in 126.2 innings in 2021.
All stats courtesy of MLB.com and Baseball-Reference.