Once again, the schedule-makers have done something a bit weird. The Cubs and Nationals will play their entire season series within a two-week period, having met for the only time at Wrigley at the beginning of last week. The two teams won't meet again in 2015, unless there's a playoff matchup. (Nice to contemplate, right?)
There is one good result of this odd schedule, as I noted in my series preview -- the Cubs won't have to face Max Scherzer, who dominated them at Wrigley. In fact, looking forward, the Cubs won't face Corey Kluber when they take on the Indians week after next. That's assuming the Tribe stays on rotation, because Kluber and Scherzer both pitched on the same day this week (Wednesday) and Kluber's turn would come up Sunday, June 14, one day before the Cubs and Indians begin their four-game, home-and-home set.
So there's the good news. The bad news is this weather forecast:
This Afternoon Rain. Areas of fog. High near 64. Northeast wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible. Tonight Rain. Areas of fog. Low around 59. Northeast wind 8 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
If the teams are rained out tonight, they probably have to play two tomorrow, although they have a common off day Monday where they could make this one up.
Finally, here is your once-a-series reminder about SB Nation's partner daily fantasy game, FanDuel. If you want to participate, here's the link.
Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Lake RF, Castro SS, Szczur LF, Ross C, Arrieta P, Russell 2B
Yikes. Not much offense at the bottom of that lineup.
Span CF, Rendon 2B, Escobar 3B, Harper RF, Zimmerman 1B, Desmond SS, Lobaton C, Taylor LF, Gonzalez P
Anthony Rendon missed the first two months of this year with a knee injury. This will be his major-league debut for 2015.
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jake Arrieta has been pretty consistent this year, throwing at least six innings in eight of his 10 starts and going seven last time even while struggling a bit. Last year against the Nats, July 6 in Washington, he gave up a run in the first inning on a double and two groundouts and then settled down and gave them nothing else as the bullpen lost that one. Current Nats, though, are hitting .333 (27-for-81) against Arrieta with three home runs (Ian Desmond, Yunel Escobar and Danny Espinosa).
Gio Gonzalez was completely dominant in back-to-back starts against the Cubs in 2014, June 28 at Wrigley Field and July 5 at Washington. But look at those lineups! That was right before the selloff, and the game immediately following the Samardzija/Hammel trade. This is a different Cubs team than the one that Gonzalez threw 15 shutout innings against last year, or over his last four starts against them:
This year, Gio has struggled, particularly in his last four starts, where he has posted a 6.65 ERA and 1.662 WHIP in 21⅔ innings. Current Cubs are 16-for-62 (.258) against Gonzalez with two home runs (Dexter Fowler, Jonathan Herrera)
Today's game is on WGN. For coverage info in other Midwest markets click here (link opens .pdf). In most of the USA this game will be carried by MLB Network. Check your cable/satellite listing.
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The 2015 Game Thread procedure has changed a bit. Here's how it will work going forward.
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.