Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds Preview, Monday 9/5, 1:20 CT: A September To Forget

Write your own caption. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

This September is the least competitive (in terms of playoff races) that I can remember. There is only one race, as of Monday morning, that is closer than 6.5 games -- the AL West, where 3.5 games separate the Rangers and Angels. Oh, sure, the top two AL East teams are 1.5 games apart, but barring a monumental collapse, they're both getting in.

Which means this might be the most meaningless September in recent Cubs history. There is only one team the Cubs play this entire month that is in playoff contention -- the Brewers. And with Milwaukee now having a 9.5 game lead over the Cardinals, it is entirely possible that the Brewers could have clinched the NL Central before they get to Wrigley Field on Sept. 18. (Good. I'd rather not see them clinch.)

The last time the Cubs played almost an entire month's worth of meaningless September games (in terms of postseason contention of the teams they were playing) was in 1997, when, as this year, they played only two teams with winning records: the Mets (who were not in contention), early in the month, and the Astros in Houston. The Astros won the NL Central that year with 84 wins and clinched the division by defeating the Cubs on September 25 in Houston.

So maybe we'll see something historic happen in the season's final 22 games. There sure won't be much drama in the results.

Cubs lineup:

Castro SS, Johnson RF, Ramirez 3B, Baker 2B, Soriano LF, Byrd CF, Soto C, LaHair 1B, Garza P

Reds lineup:

Phillips 2b, Stubbs cf, Votto 1b, Bruce rf, Alonso lf, Francisco 3b, Mesoraco c, Janish ss, Willis p
Today's Starting Pitchers
Matt Garza
Matt Garza
vs. Dontrelle Willis
Dontrelle Willis
7-10 W-L 0-4
3.64 ERA 4.10
163 SO 43
54 BB 27
12 HR 5
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs

2011 - Matt Garza 7-10 26 26 1 0 0 0 158.1 155 78 64 12 54 163 3.64 1.32

2011 - Dontrelle Willis 0-4 11 10 0 0 0 0 59.1 60 27 27 5 27 43 4.10 1.47

Matt Garza vs. the Reds this year: Three starts. Two losses. One no-decision. Nine walks in 16 innings. 5.06 ERA. None of this is good. However, Garza had a very good August (2.45 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 4-2 team record in his six starts) and hopefully, he can carry that over into September. Current Reds are hitting .258 (17-for-66) against him; home runs have been hit by Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce.

Dontrelle Willis. Wow. He's been on an odyssey since he last faced (and defeated) the Cubs on September 25, 2007, with three organizations: he Tigers, Giants and now the Reds. Willis has been a little shaky for the Reds in 10 starts, but has, at least, stopped walking everyone in sight. Current Cubs are hitting .282 (22-for-78) against him with four home runs (one each from Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Jeff Baker).

Oh, and Willis is only 10 months older than Bryan LaHair.

Today's game is on WGN and FSN Ohio. Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 1:20 p.m. CDT and the overflow threads will post at 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm and 4 pm CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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