It's official. Jon Lester will be the Cubs' Opening Day starter.
Joe Maddon made the announcement to reporters ahead of Tuesday's spring training game against the White Sox. Lester will take the ball against the Miami Marlins for the Cubs' regular-season opener March 29 in South Florida.
Lester will start Opening Day for the Cubs— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) February 27, 2018
This will mark the third time in Lester's four seasons with the Cubs that he'll get the Opening Day nod. The Cubs lost both of his previous season-opening outings in 2015 and 2017. Jake Arrieta was the Opening Day starter in 2016 after winning the National League Cy Young Award the season prior.
Lester talked extensively about the starting staff and the team as a whole getting off to a good start this season after the World Series hangover that affected the Cubs last season. Lester will be the first guy to try and get things going.
But don't try to call Lester the Cubs' "ace." That's not a term he thinks is necessary on this stacked rotation featuring Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood.
"Just a title you guys give us," He said earlier in spring training. "I think we’re a unit, we’re a group. Once the season starts, you get on a five-day rotation, there’s no more No. 1 or No. 2 or whatever. I think you’re seeing now in the playoffs that that Game 1 is more of a matchup, or it could be just who’s pitching the best at that time.
"It’s a cool title to have, but at the end of the day when we walk in that clubhouse, nobody’s an ace. I look at it as we’re a group of five guys that are trying to accomplish something."