107 games into the 2014 season -- one game short of two-thirds of the way through, and isn't it scary this year went that fast? -- the Cubs will play the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first time this year. Thanks, schedulers.
In fact, it has been 11 months since the Cubs last played the Dodgers, when they lost two out of three games at Dodger Stadium August 26-27-28, 2013. I had a look at my scorecard from the last Cubs game at Wrigley Field against the Dodgers, August 4, 2013. Of the players on the 25-man roster as of that game, just 12 remain on the team today. There will likely be much more turnover from that group before Opening Day 2015.
Anyway, the Cubs aren't a very good team right now and the Dodgers are; L.A. has the best record in the National League and is on a six-game winning streak that could very easily be nine by Sunday.
If you haven't yet checked out Russ La Croix' excellent series preview, now would be a good time to do that before you read the rest of this game preview.
Finally, just a reminder to check out (if you haven't already) SB Nation's partner fantasy site, Fan Duel, where you can win real money. Here's the link.
On to today's particulars:
Alcantara 2B, Coghlan LF, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Sweeney CF, Castillo C, Schierholtz RF, Hendricks P
Gordon 2B, Puig CF, Gonzalez 1B, Ramirez SS, Crawford LF, Kemp RF, Turner 3B, Ellis C, Haren P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Kyle Hendricks gave up three runs in the first big-league inning he pitched. Since then he has thrown 18⅓ more innings and allowed two total runs. In those 18⅓ innings, he has allowed 14 hits, three walks and struck out 14.
That says "big league pitcher" to me. Small sample size and all... Hendricks will have a good test against a strong Dodgers team tonight. Obviously, he's never faced them nor anyone on their roster. He is a native of southern California (Newport Beach) so he's likely to have quite a few friends and family in attendance tonight.
Dan Haren, the almost-Cub (remember the aborted Carlos Marmol deal?), is not having a very good year (4.49 ERA, 1.308 WHIP, 4.52 FIP, 79 ERA+). I think I'd still rather have him in the Cubs rotation than Edwin Jackson. The last time he faced the Cubs was August 20, 2013 at Wrigley Field, where he held the Cubs to five hits and a run in six innings. Some of those Cubs are even still on the team.
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.