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Jake Arrieta to start for Cubs on Opening Day

MESA, Ariz. -- National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta will start Opening Day when the Chicago Cubs take on the Los Angeles Angels, manager Joe Maddon announced Tuesday morning.

It'll be Arrieta's second Opening Day start after getting the nod for the Baltimore Orioles in 2012.

"It's another surprise," Maddon joked about the announcement. "Of course he's very excited about it. He's earned that right."

Arrieta went 22-7 with a 1.77 ERA in 2015, producing the lowest post-All-Star break ERA (0.75) in history. He also threw a no-hitter last season and a complete game in the Cubs' wild-card victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, striking out 11 while giving up just four hits.

Arrieta will be followed in the rotation by Jon Lester and John Lackey, though Maddon indicated Lackey could go ahead of Lester depending on the matchup the team desires. Last season Lester pitched Opening Day while Arrieta started Game 2.

The Cubs' top three pitchers will make their spring debuts next week.

Lester started Opening Day for the Cubs last season, his first with the team after signing a big free-agent contract.

"I'm more than happy for Jake," he said. "Once you get named its kind of exciting and stuff but its one of those days that kind of sucks. I think it's one of the hardest days of the year to pitch. A lot of distractions and things going on. A lot of outside things that are hard to control.

"But we all knew he was going to get that honor. I'm excited for him. It's a cool deal."