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Chicago Cubs vs. Houston Astros Preview, Monday 10/1, 7:05 CT

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Existential question of the day: If a major-league baseball game is played and no one pays any attention to it, does it really happen?

Ralph Freso - Getty Images
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler
vs. Tony Romo
Tony Romo

Okay, I made that up. But since virtually all of you will be paying attention to the Bears/Cowboys game tonight, and not the Cubs/Astros game, I had an idea. What if these two quarterbacks were the starting pitchers tonight at Wrigley Field?

The Cubs would probably have a much better chance of winning. Jay Cutler has a great arm -- that's always been the thing that sold Bears management and fans on him. If he had decided to play baseball instead of football when he was younger, I don't doubt that he could have become a hard-throwing major-league righthander, with a Roger Clemens-like sneer. Not as talented as Clemens, though. Maybe... a less-friendly Matt Garza?

Meanwhile, Tony Romo? High completion percentage, low interception percentage. Not good in the playoffs, though. I'm thinking someone like... A.J. Burnett. Or, since Romo has had highly-publicized romances with female celebrities, maybe Brad Penny. (The younger version of Penny, not the bloated middle reliever now with the Giants.)

Had enough fun with this? I'll be real interested to see how many other die-hard baseball fans show up at Wrigley this evening to see the titanic matchup between... Jason Berken and Lucas Harrell. Hey, it's October baseball! In Chicago! (Prediction: fewer than 10,000 actually in the house tonight, no matter what the announced crowd is.)

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus CF, Sappelt RF, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Castillo C, Barney 2B, Berken P

Astros lineup:

Altuve 2B, Moore RF, Lowrie SS, F. Martinez LF, Wallace 1B, Dominguez 3B, Castro C, Barnes CF, Harrell P

And, here are tonight's real starting pitchers.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Jason Berken
Jason Berken
vs. Lucas Harrell
Lucas Harrell
0-2 W-L 10-11
5.14 ERA 3.88
9 SO 133
5 BB 77
2 HR 13
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

2012 - Jason Berken 0-2 3 3 0 0 0 0 14.0 19 12 8 2 5 9 5.14 1.71

2012 - Lucas Harrell 10-11 34 31 1 1 0 0 187.2 183 90 81 13 77 133 3.88 1.39

Jason Berken has never faced the Astros, and has faced just two players on their roster (Jed Lowrie and Fernando Martinez, total 0-for-6). It's really hard to tell what he'll do tonight; he's had a really good start against a good team, the Reds (though against a makeshift Cincinnati lineup), and followed that with a really bad start against a bad team, the Rockies. Years from now, he'll likely be the answer to a trivia question: Who was the losing pitcher when the Cubs lost their 100th game of 2012?

Lucas Harrell came up through the White Sox farm system and was acquired in 2011 on waivers by the Astros. He's been their best starter this year, and that's actually saying something: Harrell has put up a 2.4 WAR season for a 106-loss team. He made what is probably his best start of the season against the Cubs, August 14 at Wrigley Field, when he threw eight innings and gave up just one run. Years from now, he'll likely be the answer to the trivia question: Who was the winning pitcher when the Cubs lost their 100th game of 2012?

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 Astros site The Crawfish Boxes.

Based on some feedback from all of you, I'm going to adjust the way I'm doing game threads -- hopefully, this method will work, starting tonight and for the rest of this season.

You'll see the game preview -- like this one -- as usual, two hours before game time (this one's up a little earlier due to the somewhat-late start, the last late start of the year).

Then, the other discussion threads will post on time schedules as they always have, first pitch thread at game time, overflows at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time. I will create a StoryStream™ for each game where you can find all the discussion threads. For today's game go to this GameStream (as I'm calling them); you'll find the First Pitch Thread there at 7:05 p.m. CDT and the others will post in that stream at 8:05, 9:05 and 9:50 p.m. CDT.

Once the game is over and I write a recap, it will post as a separate story on the front page; I'll have the preview and recap up there as individual stories, but they will also reside in the stream. Hope that makes more sense and makes things easier to find. The game threads can all also be found in the section titled Chicago Cubs Game Threads, which you can find at that link or in the drop-down menu under "Sections" in the middle of the site.

Let me know if this works, or if you have other suggestions.

Discuss amongst yourselves.