* The Cubs won the season series with the Cardinals last season, 10-9. It was the first time Chicago had won the season series with St. Louis since 2010 (9-6), and the first time the Cubs had won 10+ games against the Cardinals in a single season since 2007 (11-5). The Cubs won six of the nine meetings at Busch Stadium last season.
* The 2016 Cubs won the NL Central (by 17.5 games over the Cardinals) for the first time since 2008, made it back to the World Series for the first time since 1945, and won the Fall Classic for the first time since 1908. Chicago’s 103 regular-season wins were its most since 1910 (104 wins).
* The 2016 Cardinals finished 10 games over .500 for the ninth consecutive season, but missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Last season’s Cardinals led the National League with 225 (2nd most in franchise history – 235 in 2000), and had a franchise-record six different players with 20+ home runs.
* Kris Bryant won the 2016 NL MVP, the first Cub to win the award since Sammy Sosa in 1998. Since 1920 (RBI became an official stat), Bryant is just the third MLB player to have 60+ home runs, 200+ runs scored and 200+ runs batted in in his first two MLB seasons. The other two were Albert Pujols (2001-02) and Joe DiMaggio (1936-37).
* Yadier Molina led the 2016 Cardinals in batting average (.307), hits (career-high 164) and doubles (38) in a career-high 147 games (career-high 142 starts at catcher). The 34-year-old Molina is entering his 14th MLB season, and is 8-for-22 (.364) career versus Jon Lester, including 5-for-9 last season.
* Jon Lester in 2016 won a World Championship, was named the NLCS co-MVP, made his fourth All-Star Game, tied his career high with 19 wins (also 19 in 2010 with Boston) and had a career-low 2.44 ERA. Lester finished second to Max Scherzer for the NL Cy Young. This will be Lester’s sixth Opening Day assignment, and second with the Cubs.
* This will be Carlos Martinez’s first Opening Day start. Martinez won a career-high 16 games in 2016. Martinez is one of six pitchers with 30+ wins in the NL over the last two seasons (Arrieta, Scherzer, Bumgarner, Greinke and Lester).