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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Preview, Monday 4/20, 6:05 CT

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The Cubs open up a seven-game road trip in Pittsburgh Monday evening.

Jon Durr/Getty Images

Herewith a few interesting notes on the Cubs' 11 games thus far.

  • Cubs starting pitchers not named Jon Lester have a 3.75 combined ERA and 1.167 combined WHIP in 48 innings, with 10 walks and 46 strikeouts.
  • The Cubs are tied (with the Reds) for the league lead in stolen bases with 13. The 2014 Cubs stole 13 bases in their first 17 games, but nine of those were by Emilio Bonifacio. This year's Cubs have steals from eight different players.
  • The Cubs' 45 runs ranks 10th in the N.L., but just slightly below the league average of 48. Their 43 runs allowed ranks fourth-best.

So, it would appear to me that the Cubs are off to a decent start in just about every area. Relief pitching was good until Saturday's meltdown. This road trip should tell us a lot about how this team's going to play. Since 2010 the Cubs are 164-244 (.402) in road games, third-worst among all teams. (They haven't been any good in home games over that span, either; their .455 winning percentage ranks 29th.)

Only seven teams have overall winning road records from 2010-15, but all of them are teams with multiple playoff appearances in that time: Rays, Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Red Sox and Rangers. Note that Joe Maddon's Rays had the best road winning percentage of any team from 2010-14: .538. It would be nice if some of that would rub off on Maddon's Cubs.

One more thing regarding tonight's game: this is not a favorable weather forecast.

Here are today's particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Fowler CF, Soler RF, Rizzo 1B, Bryant 3B, Montero C, Castro SS, Coghlan LF, Arrieta P, Herrera 2B

And here is the Cubs official lineup tweet:

Pirates lineup:

Harrison 3B, Polanco RF, McCutchen CF, Walker 2B, Marte LF, Alvarez 1B, Cervelli C, Kang SS, Burnett P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta


Cubs

vs. A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett


Pirates

vs. Pit

--

vs. Cubs

Jake Arrieta has picked up where he left off last year, with one excellent start and one that was good enough, even though the Cubs lost. Interestingly, he did not face the Pirates at all last year, and September 13, 2013 was his only start at PNC Park as a Cub. He allowed three homers that day, but only one of those players (Pedro Alvarez) is still on the Pirates.

A.J. Burnett was pretty bad last year with the Phillies, but he has made two decent starts for Pittsburgh this year in what is almost certainly his final big-league season. He faced the Cubs once last year, April 6 at Wrigley Field, and I pass that link along to show you the huge turnover in the Cubs roster in just a little more than one calendar year. In connection with that, only two Cubs have more than a handful of at-bats vs. Burnett: Anthony Rizzo (5-for-21, two home runs) and Starlin Castro (13-for-29, .448, three doubles).

Today's game is on CSN Chicago Plus. This is a change from original schedules due to tonight's Bulls playoff game. Check your local cable/satellite guide for the channel.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

Once again for 2015, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as the last couple of years. 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 most 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.