Chicago Cubs vs. Miami Marlins Preview, Thursday 7/19, 1:20 CT

Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney tags out Miami Marlins center fielder Emilio Bonifacio at second base on a steal attempt at Wrigley Field. Credit: David Banks-US PRESSWIRE

The countdown is on! Will Ryan Dempster be traded today (or early tomorrow), or will he make his Friday start in St. Louis? (I'll stick by my prediction: he'll make the start.) Meanwhile, here's what Theo Epstein is looking for as he contemplates dealing Dempster (and others):

"You can express a preference for pitching," Epstein said, "but if we're dealing with a club that has better position player prospects or we feel position players in a certain system are a safer bet or offer a higher upside, I don't think it's fair to pigeon hole yourself to one situation.

"As a whole, not specifically regarding these potential deals that are upcoming, we need to add a lot of pitching to the system. It's not enough to have a handful. We need to have waves and waves coming into the system. We don't have that. We hardly have one wave. We need to build a lot of pitching depth."

He's right, of course, and so if/when Dempster (and others) are traded away, we can presume that this sort of pitching depth is what TheoJed will be seeking.

The Cubs clinched a winning homestand with Wednesday night's rain-shortened win. They can make it 5-1 on the homestand with a win today, although they may have to dodge raindrops again.

Cubs lineup:

Johnson CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Baker RF, Soto C, Barney 2B, Valbuena 3B, Maholm P

Once again, Ozzie Guillen's Marlins lineup was not available at the time I wrote this post. Get with the program, Ozzie! Check the BCB Twitter feed for the Marlins lineup.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Paul Maholm
Paul Maholm
vs. Mark Buehrle
Mark Buehrle
7-6 W-L 9-8
4.33 ERA 3.13
65 SO 73
28 BB 18
11 HR 13
vs. Mia -- vs. Cubs

2012 - Paul Maholm 7-6 18 17 0 0 0 0 97.2 102 48 47 11 28 65 4.33 1.33

2012 - Mark Buehrle 9-8 18 18 1 0 0 0 120.2 118 45 42 13 18 73 3.13 1.13

Paul Maholm has a 0.81 ERA in his last four appearances (three starts and a relief outing), covering 22⅓ innings. In that span he's given up 20 hits, three walks, struck out 16 and allowed just two earned runs (and no home runs). He has not faced the Marlins since April 19, 2011, and trust me, you do not want to click on that link. Current Marlins are hitting .296 (47-for-159) against him and the biggest culprit is Hanley Ramirez (7-for-16, two home runs).

Mark Buehrle has made 14 career starts against the Cubs, seven of them at Wrigley Field; this will be his first such Wrigley start not as a member of the White Sox. He threw eight excellent innings against the Cubs April 18 in Miami, allowing just five singles, a double and one run. Current Cubs, though, are hitting just .221 against him (43-for-195). So, clearly, we are doomed.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Marlins site FishStripes.

Today's first pitch thread will post at 1:20 p.m. CDT and the overflows at 2:20, 3:20 and 4:05 p.m. 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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