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2015 National League Championship Series Game 1 Preview: Cubs vs. Mets, Saturday 10/17, 7:07 CT

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The Cubs begin their NLCS quest for the World Series at Citi Field in New York tonight.

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Well, here we are. The National League Championship Series!

I've been trying to think about what to put here that you haven't already read or thought about, and frankly, there really isn't much we haven't already gone over and over and over.

There is one curious thing, a coincidence more than anything else, regarding the Cubs' participation in this particular postseason as compared to their six previous playoff appearances in the divisional-play era.

In each of those six years, had the Cubs reached the World Series, they would have faced a team that a previous Cubs club had played in the Fall Classic:

1984: Tigers
1989: Athletics
1998: Yankees
2003: Yankees
2007: Red Sox
2008: Yankees

The only one of those teams that qualified for this year's October tournament, the Yankees, was dispatched in the wild-card game. Further, the other four A.L. division-series teams this year are all expansion teams -- not one of them existed the last time the Cubs were in the World Series in 1945. The Mets, too, are an expansion team.

A coincidence? Most probably. A sign? You decide. There has never been a World Series without at least one pre-expansion club participating. So it's up to the Cubs to keep that mark intact.

Just thought this was interesting. One more thing to get you in the mood for baseball!

Now, on to today's particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Fowler CF, Schwarber LF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Castro 2B, Soler RF, Baez SS, Ross C, Lester P

Mets lineup:

Granderson RF, Wright 3B, Murphy 2B, Cespedes LF, d’Arnaud C, Cuddyer 1B, Flores SS, Lagares CF, Harvey P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Jon Lester

Jon Lester


Cubs

vs. Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey


Mets

vs. NY

--

vs. Cubs

Jon Lester faced the Mets twice this year: May 11 at Wrigley Field and July 1 at Citi Field. The first one was going along fine until Lucas Duda and Wil Flores hit back-to-back homers off him in the sixth. In the NY game, Lester threw seven shutout innings and struck out seven. As has been noted by many, this Mets offense is far different than the one Lester faced. Perhaps more important is Lester's career postseason pitching line: 15 games (13 starts), 91⅓ innings, 2.66 ERA, 1.051 WHIP. Lester's been in this spot many times before and that's one of the reasons the Cubs signed him.

Matt Harvey threw seven shutout innings against the Cubs May 13 at Wrigley Field, a game the Cubs eventually won in the bottom of the ninth. Just as for the Mets, the Cubs offensive lineup is far different than it was the last time Harvey faced them (no Kyle Schwarber or Javier Baez in that game). The controversy about limiting Harvey's innings this year is well-known, in his first year back after Tommy John surgery. He threw 189⅓ innings in the regular season, and had his pitch counts limited after early September. He threw 97 pitches in five innings five days ago in Game 3 of the Division Series against the Dodgers, allowing seven hits and two walks. This one won't be easy, but if the Cubs can be patient with Harvey and run up his pitch count, that could be the key to success.

Today's game is on TBS. Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling, Cal Ripken, Sam Ryan and Matt Winer.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Mets site Amazin' Avenue. If you do go there to interact with Mets fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

The 2015 Game Thread procedure has changed a bit. Here's how it will work going forward. (And a reminder that a "Rapid Recap" will be posted here by Josh shortly after the game ends, with my own recap at the usual time, 8 a.m. CT tomorrow.)

You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).

At the same time, a StoryStream™ containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap 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 the game's StoryStream™ as noted above.

The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.