After having their home game postponed on Sunday due to snow, the Chicago Cubs are surely thrilled to travel to Miami for Monday night's game at the Marlins.
The Cubs will be greeted by sunshine -- likely -- and a retractable roof in case of showers. There will also be, in all likelihood, a strong number of Cubs fans at Marlins Park, where small crowds are the norm.
Chicago should also benefit from a day of rest for its pitching arms, as the Cubs used six relievers in Saturday's 6-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Meanwhile, Miami figures to have a tired bullpen after losing 3-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies in 14 innings on Sunday. The Marlins used seven relievers on Sunday, covering seven innings.
The only reliever Miami did not use was rookie Austin Brice.
On Monday, Miami will pitch Trevor Richards against Chicago's Yu Darvish in a battle of right-handers, after the Cubs skipped Tyler Chatwood in the rotation.
While Miami has yet to win a series this year, it's also been a struggle for the Cubs, who started the season 1-6. Through their first eight games, they were allowing 8.4 runs per game.
There has been improvement of late, however, as Chicago is allowing just 2.7 runs while splitting its past six games.
Offensively, the Cubs have some struggling hitters, including Kris Bryant, who has struck out 13 times in his past nine games, hitting just .194 during that span.
In addition, first baseman Anthony Rizzo -- who is from South Florida -- and Kyle Schwarber are each hitting just .192 this season.
Bryant, Rizzo and Schwarber combined to hit 64 homers last season but have just seven so far this year.
Those are unusual struggles for elite hitters on an elite team -- the Cubs have made the postseason four years in a row and won 387 games during that span, which is more than any other team in the majors. They also won the World Series in 2016, ending perhaps the most famous "jinx" in sports.
Chatwood was scheduled to take the mound on Monday in place of injured lefty Jon Lester, who is in the 10-day injured list with a hamstring injury sustained on the basepaths in the home opener.
With Sunday's game snowed out, Darvish will take the mound instead, giving Chicago more time to buffer before Lester's return.
"When he's ready to go, he's going to go," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Lester's status earlier this week. "That's pretty much what it's going to be."
Darvish (0-2, 7.50 ERA) has dropped consecutive decisions, most recently allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits in 5 1/2 innings on Wednesday in a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In his first two starts of the season, he threw 146 pitches in just 6 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and 12 walks, with just six strikeouts.
For Miami, Richards (0-1, 2.00 ERA) will make his 29th career major league start. The 25-year-old find -- he went undrafted out of Drury University and was pitching in an independent league when the Marlins signed him -- made his big-league debut last year and has quickly earned a reputation for having a killer changeup.
Hitters are batting just .089 against his change this season, and he is throwing that pitch 39 percent of the time. Richards has 18 strikeouts in 18 innings and will be looking for more run support and his first win of the season.
On Wednesday, Richards allowed just one hit and no runs in six innings, but the Marlins lost to the Cincinnati Reds 2-1.
"I want to progress with every start. I want to get better every time I go out there, but as a team we're in close games," Richards said after the loss. "We just need to get a couple hits here and there."
"This one was tough to swallow," Marlins manager Don Mattingly added ... a quote he could've repeated often so far this year.
--Field Level Media
More TOP STORIES News