Cubs vs. Nationals Preview, Tuesday 8/20, 7:05 CT: The Rest Of The Schedule

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs could do pretty well for the rest of 2013. Or not; they've got easy stretches and rough ones.

The Cubs have 38 games remaining, including tonight's match with the Nats.

Of those, 19 of them are against teams in contention: 3 vs. LAD, 3 vs. CIN, 3 vs. STL, 3 vs. ATL and 7 vs. PIT.

And 19 of them are against teams who currently have losing records: 3 vs. WAS, 3 vs. SD, 3 vs. PHI, 3 vs. MIA and 7 vs. MIL.

It's not impossible for the Cubs to go 19-19 in those games; they have played better outside the NL Central, and have 18 games outside the division. They play better on the road, and have 20 road games left, with 18 home games. If the Cubs do play .500 for the remainder of the year, they'll finish at 73-89 and avoid a third straight 90-loss season. Three straight 90-loss years has happened only once in Cubs history: 1960-61-62.

You'd think both players and management would want to avoid that happening for the second time.

Cubs lineup:

Lake CF, Barney 2B, Rizzo 1B, Schierholtz RF, Murphy 3B, Bogusevic LF, Castillo C, Castro SS, Rusin P

Anthony Rizzo back in the lineup, as expected. Brian Bogusevic gets a start. Starlin Castro bats eighth for the first time since July 17, 2010.

Nationals lineup:

Harper CF, Desmond SS, Zimmerman 3B, Werth RF, Ramos C, Moore 1B, Rendon 2B, Hairston LF, Haren P

Hey, look! An ex-Cub in the Nats lineup, and not David DeJesus. Scott Hairston is 7-for-33 (.212) since the trade, with no HR or RBI and a .560 OPS, which is even lower than his Cubs OPS (.666). Against LHP this year Hairston is 21-for-102 (.206/.263/.480) with all eight of his home runs. What a strange season.

Oh, and I think I win the Hairston vs. Ryan Raburn OPS bet. Hairston's combined OPS entering today: .640. Raburn: .940.

Today's Starting Pitchers

Chris Rusin

Chris Rusin


Cubs

vs. Dan Haren

Dan Haren


Nationals

vs. Was

--

vs. Cubs


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Chris Rusin 2-2 6 6 0 0 0 0 32.1 28 11 11 3 10 21 3.06 1.18


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Dan Haren 7-11 22 22 0 0 0 0 125.0 134 71 67 22 23 109 4.82 1.26

Chris Rusin's second major-league start was September 4, 2012 against the Nats in Washington. Trust me, you do not want to look at that boxscore. (Don't say I didn't warn you.) Having said that, Rusin appears to be a much more polished and confident starter this year than he was in 2012. There's some hope he could be a decent fifth starter in 2014. Here's hoping for a good outing tonight.

Dan Haren, as you all know, was almost traded to the Cubs for Carlos Marmol last November. When both pitchers got off to bad starts, most figured that would have been a bad trade for both teams. But Marmol has pitched pretty well for the Dodgers, and Haren has a 2.08 ERA over his last seven appearances. Current members of the Cubs roster are 2-for-24 against Haren, and most of that is Dioner Navarro (1-for-17), so it's just as well that Navarro isn't starting tonight.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Nationals site Federal Baseball.

Here's the scoop on game threads for 2013. You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games, that will usually be 90 minutes.

You will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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