The posting time of this preview is 7 p.m. CT, the usual two hours before Cubs game time.
However, 7 p.m. tonight is a much more important game time -- Game 3 of the NHL Western Conference finals between the Blackhawks and Kings. Thus, I have a feeling I know where your focus is going to be for the next couple of hours.
Rather than say anything more about the Cubs game, most of which you already know, feel free to use this as a Blackhawks thread until the Cubs game starts. Let's go Hawks!
If you really want to know more about tonight's Cubs matchup, here it is:
Kalish CF, Lake LF, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Castillo C, Schierholtz RF, Barney 2B, Wood P
Well, that's different. Emilio Bonifacio with the day off, and Ryan Kalish leading off. Will it work? Who knows?
Cabrera SS, Maybin CF, Denorfia RF, Headley 3B, Smith LF, Gyorko 2B, Alonso 1B, Grandal C, Buckner P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Travis Wood righted his 2014 ship with a good outing in his last start, against the Brewers, after having two straight bad ones. He has not faced the Padres since August 6, 2012, and most of those players aren't on the Padres any more.
So what to expect? Who knows?
Billy Buckner has one career start against the Cubs: October 2, 2009 at Wrigley Field. (Boxscore for amusement value only.) The only current Cubs he has faced are Chris Coghlan (0-for-3) and Luis Valbuena (0-for-1). That tells us almost nothing. But you know how Cubs teams usually do against pitchers they haven't seen before. Doom.
BTW, doesn't Buckner kind of look like "Generic Baseball Player?"
Today's game is on WGN.
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.