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Cubs vs. Reds Preview, Friday 4/18, 1:20 CT

The Cubs open a seven-game homestand against their divisional rivals from Cincinnati.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Today is the first of the many Wrigley Field 100th anniversary giveaways, a Joe Tinker bobblehead. Despite Tinker's long Cubs career, the bobblehead depicts him in a Chi-Feds uniform. Tinker did play for and manage the Chi-Feds (or Whales) in 1914 and 1915, and since the Cubs will be commemorating the Chi-Feds on the 100th anniversary next Wednesday, I suppose it's appropriate.

I like bobbleheads, and am glad they are giving many of them away this year. I'll take a photo of the actual giveaway and tweet it once I'm in the ballpark. The weather is supposed to be nice today; we'll see if that and the giveaway brings out any larger crowd.

Oh yes, there's a baseball game today, too.

Cubs lineup:

Bonifacio 2B, Lake LF, Rizzo 1B, Schierholtz RF, Castro SS, Sweeney CF, Castillo C, Valbuena 3B, Samardzija P

Another righthander, another day off for Mike Olt. Oh, well.

Reds lineup:

Hamilton CF, Votto 1B,  Phillips 2B, Bruce RF, Frazier 3B, Ludwick LF, Mesoraco C, Cozart SS, Simon P

This will be Billy Hamilton's first career game at Wrigley Field (he played in one against the Cubs in Cincinnati last September). He is off to a bad start (.170/.220/.234). It will be interesting to watch him run -- if he can get on base.

Today's Starting Pitchers

Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija


vs. Alfredo Simon

Alfredo Simon


vs. Cin


vs. Cubs

Jeff Samardzija is off to a great start this year in his first three starts (1.29 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 1.048 WHIP). Current Reds are 45-for-160 (.281) against him with four home runs (two by Todd Frazier, one each by Jack Hannahan and Devin Mesoraco).

Alfredo Simon has been a reliever for the Reds the last couple of years. This year he's in their rotation and has done a good job over his first two starts (1.20 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 0.733 WHIP). He has 10 career relief appearances against the Cubs, with a small sample size of current Cubs being 9-for-34 against him with one home run (Luis Valbuena). What conclusions can be drawn? None, probably.

Today's game is on WGN. In some parts of the USA it will be on MLB Network; check your cable/satellite guide.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter. The usual caution is advised.

For 2014, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as 2013. Here's how it works.

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.