GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan -- What, you again? Seriously?
I know I lead these previews with that line a lot, but this really is silly. It's been five whole days since the Cubs have faced the Pirates, which means the Bucs will have faced two of the three Cubs starters going in this series, since the Cubs are using a six-man rotation this month.
Since Pittsburgh is going with the traditional five-man rotation, the Cubs will be facing two guys (Jeff Locke and Edinson Volquez) who they did not face last weekend. The Pirates are just 2½ games out of first place in the N.L. Central, having passed the Brewers into second place (and I'm sure you'd much rather see them win the division than the Cardinals), and currently hold a 1½-game lead over Milwaukee for the second wild-card spot.
Got all that? I'm sure the Cubs are just happy to not have to play on artificial turf until (probably) 2020, given the way the interleague schedule is set up. (2020? Is that even a real year?)
Please check out Russ La Croix' excellent series preview if you have not already done so.
Finally, here's your once-a-series 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.
Here are tonight's particulars.
Coghlan LF, Baez SS, Valbuena 3B, Castillo C, Kalish RF, Olt 1B, Alcantara CF, Watkins 2B, Wada P
No Anthony Rizzo tonight; here's the latest tweet I found:
#Cubs Rizzo running the bases at PNC Park w/medical staff watching. Strength coach Tim Buss also showing off his batting stance— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) September 12, 2014
Perhaps tomorrow. Or maybe he's available to pinch-hit. You likely already know why Jorge Soler isn't playing; if you don't, it's because he's in Miami where his wife is due to have a baby. Congrats to the Soler family; he'll rejoin the team in Chicago Monday.
Harrison 3B, Mercer SS, McCutchen CF, Walker 2B, Tabata RF, G. Sanchez 1B, Snider LF, Stewart C, Cole P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Tsuyoshi Wada struggled against the Pirates one week ago at Wrigley Field; he had to leave the game early on a hot, humid afternoon due to cramping in his left calf. Before he departed he gave three earned runs in 3⅓ innings, his shortest outing among his 10 big-league starts. He's still got decent numbers this year, including a 2.95 ERA and 1.091 WHIP. The Pirates will be the first team he's faced twice, so we'll see if they've made adjustments.
Gerrit Cole threw six decent innings against the Cubs last Sunday at Wrigley Field, allowing three earned runs in six innings, striking out eight with no walks. He also hit a home run. Clearly, we are doomed.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago.
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.