The return to the Friendly Confines comes at a good time for the Cubs

CHICAGO – The road is long and not defined by a short stretch in the beginning. The optimist would say this about the Cubs’ season so far, but even he or she isn’t feeling great at the moment.

Over the course of nine games, the team couldn’t have done any more to make the worst fears of their fanbase come to light.

The bullpen has struggled mightily while a few starters have been inconsistent. As the Cubs have struggled to a 2-7 record, the Brewers has shot to the top of the division with an 8-2 record. The uneasiness that existed from the end of 2018 through the offseason has only gotten worse, even if the season is only a week-and-a-half old.

Now would be a good time for Joe Maddon’s team to return to familiar and friendly territory, and they’ll finally get that chance on Monday.

The Cubs will open the home slate against the Pirates at 1:20 p.m. Monday and will have no weather-related issues as they did in 2018. Morning snow forced the home opener to be delayed a day against Pittsburgh then, but sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s will greet the players in 2019.

Perhaps the influx of positive vibes will help with a Cubs’ squad that’s been, to say the least, uneven in their first nine games of the season. While the home opener has been a mixed bag for the Cubs – 2-2 record with a loss to the Pirates in 2018 – the team has been quite successful during the Maddon era at Wrigley Field.

Here are their overall records at home in that time.

2015 – 49-32

2016 – 57-24

2017  – 48-33

2018 – 51-31

After a sluggish start to the season, one in which their bullpen allowed 31 runs and they’ve fallen 5 1/2 games behind the Brewers for first in the NL Central, the Cubs will get their chance to right their ways at home. Twelve of the next 15 games are at Wrigley Field, with three against the Pirates then a trio against the Angels.

A quick three-game trip to Miami is followed by another six-game homestand featuring the Diamondbacks (April 19-21) and the Dodgers (April 23-25).

More optimism to start this home season comes from the starting pitcher, who is making his four Wrigley Field opener start in five years. Jon Lester takes the mound after two solid performances to open the season, going 1-0 with a 3.00 era along with 10 strikeouts compared to five walks in 12 innings of work.

He’ll likely pitch under clear skies at the Friendly Confines on Monday, trying to remove the shade of a bad Cubs’ start on the road. It’s safe to say everyone’s look forward to the sun shining in, but literally and figuratively.

 

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