Opening Day FAQ: Cubs vs. Rangers

March 28th, 2024

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers won the last game -- the most important game -- of the 2023 season: Game 5 of the World Series. But as Opening Day quickly approaches, the club is reminded that Game No. 1 matters just as much as Game 162 and all the potential games afterwards.

The Rangers will face off against the Cubs at Globe Life Field on Opening Day on Thursday, as they gear up for a title defense.

“Every game matters, so I’m making sure that we go out there and we set the tone and we do the little things that we've been working on during Spring Training,” said Rangers starting pitcher and Texas native Eovaldi. “I think it's special because we won the World Series last year and there's gonna be a lot of excitement, a lot of adrenaline. It's Opening Day and baseball is back, so it's very exciting.”

The Cubs just missed the postseason in 2023, but are locked and loaded for a return to October after the re-signing of outfielder and a new manager in Craig Counsell.

“It's gonna be really cool,” said Cubs veteran , who won the World Series with the club in 2016. “Feeling that emotion and that energy, seeing it on the other side, that's where we want to get to. So just having that example right in front of you, that extra motivation, to be able to start there and get the ceremony, the whole thing, and then play against them, just that whole bit, it's going to be great for our experience and really kickstart the season for us.”

What are the lineups?


MLB Pipeline’s No. 6 overall prospect made the Opening Day roster, starting at designated hitter, though he will get enough outfield time throughout the season.

With starting the season on the injured list with an oblique strain, the Rangers tabbed Ezequiel Duran to play first base.


Happ dealt with a left hamstring injury during Spring Training, but he'll man left field in the opener instead of DHing. Counsell plans on being open-minded about his lineup construction, allowing for flexibility to move players around based on matchups. On days Gomes does not start, will be behind the plate for Chicago.

Who are the starting pitchers?


The Alvin, Texas, native was given the Opening Day nod, his first with the Rangers and fourth overall after doing so three times with the Red Sox. Eovaldi earned his second career All-Star bid, posting a 3.63 ERA in 25 starts (144 innings) in 2023. He was one of the Rangers’ many postseason heroes after going 5-0 with a 2.95 ERA in his six postseason outings en route to his second career World Series title.

Steele earned his first career Opening Day assignment after enjoying a breakout campaign in 2023, when he made his first All-Star team and finished fifth in balloting for the National League’s Cy Young Award. The lefty did so by going 16-5 with a 3.06 ERA and 176 strikeouts against 36 walks in 173 1/3 innings. Steele’s best stretch was a 16-start run from May 31-Sept. 9, when he went 10-1 with a 2.30 ERA, 102 strikeouts and 17 walks in 94 innings.

How might the bullpens line up after the starter?


In a perfect world, Eovaldi will give the Rangers’ five to six solid innings of work, with the high leverage group of , , and lined up to close out the game


Righty emerged as the Cubs’ closer in ‘23, when he teamed up with and to form Chicago’s main late-inning trio down the stretch. This offseason, Chicago added durable veteran to help slam the door on wins.

Any injuries of note?


A trio of starting pitchers in (Tommy John), (Tommy John) and (herniated disk) will all be sidelined until the summer at the earliest, and Lowe will be sidelined until at least mid-April with an oblique strain.


Righty (back) was on the mend at the back-end of Spring Training, but still required a season-opening stint on the injured list as he builds back up to game readiness. (back) also opened the year on the shelf, clearing a path to the roster for first baseman . Both Happ and dealt with hamstring setbacks during the spring.

Who’s hot and who’s not?


While Langford may have always been Plan A at designated hitter going into Spring Training for the Rangers, he sure proved them right with his Spring Training performance. The rookie outfielder hit .368 with a 1.141 OPS. His 21 hits, six homers and 20 RBIs all lead the Cactus League.

Obviously Spring Training stats all come with a grain of salt, but center fielder Taveras hit just .217 with a .549 OPS across 19 Cactus League games.


With a few days left in Spring Training, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer joked that he had “seen enough” of at the plate. Quipped Hoyer: “We’re good. Head to Texas.” That is because Suzuki hit .459 (17-for-37) with six homers, five doubles, 12 RBIs and a 1.593 OPS in 15 Cactus League games. Neris had an 11.74 ERA through eight Cactus League appearances, but Counsell warned never to pay much attention to a veteran reliever’s stat line in the preseason.

Anything else fans might want to know?


For the first time in Rangers history, Opening Weekend will be jam packed with celebrations following the first World Series championship in franchise history. Texas will wear gold-trimmed white uniforms with a gold T on the caps for the entire weekend. The team will receive their World Series rings ahead of Friday’s games.

The full schedule of pregame ceremonies for Opening Day will be announced later this week.


The Cubs last opened a season on the road against the Rangers in 2019, when belted two home runs in a 12-4 romp for the North Siders. No players who appeared in that game for Chicago remain with the ballclub. Dating back to 2018, the Cubs have won five of their past six season openers, including each of the last two (both vs. Milwaukee).

The Cubs won two of three games against Texas in their only meeting last season (April 7-9). That included Steele picking up his first win of the season on April 8, when he yielded just one run over six frames.