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Chicago Cubs vs. Philadelphia Phillies Preview, Friday 7/24, 3:05 CT

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The Cubs begin a six-game homestand with a set against the now Sandberg-less Phillies.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

It has been 13 months since the Cubs and Phillies last met, in Philadelphia in June 2014. The Cubs took two of three in that series, and the teams have kind of been crossing on their way up (Cubs) and down (Phillies) the standings. Last year's Cubs and Phillies had identical 73-89 records. It would be an upset if the Cubs don't win at least 20 more games than the Phillies do this year, and maybe 25 or more.

That said, the Phillies are on a bit of a mini-roll since Ryne Sandberg quit as manager. The Phillies went 26-48 under Sandberg and are 8-15 under interim manager Pete Mackanin (who interviewed for the Cubs job at the same time Dale Sveum did), but have won five of their last six. That includes a three-game sweep of the Marlins (not impressed) and taking two of three from the Rays (hey, those guys are at least decent).

That was all at Philadelphia, though, where the Phillies are close to .500 (23-26). They have the worst road record in baseball at 11-37 and are 2-9 in their last 11 road games.

Wow, that's really awful. Time for the Cubs to pick things up and win some games at home.

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.

Cubs lineup:

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

Phillies lineup:

Hernandez 2B, Revere CF, Franco 3B, Francoeur RF, Ruf 1B, Galvis SS, Asche LF, Rupp C, Williams P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Jon Lester

Jon Lester


Cubs

vs. Jerome Williams

Jerome Williams


Phillies

vs. Phi

--

vs. Cubs

Jon Lester nearly threw a no-hitter in his last start, that is, after he found out in the seventh inning that he had one after a scoring change. Beyond that, Lester has a 1.97 ERA in his last seven starts and is beginning to look like the pitcher the Cubs hoped they were getting last winter. He last faced the Phillies September 19, 2014 while with the A's and threw seven strong innings. More of that, please.

Jerome Williams. Man. As I noted in the series preview, can't believe he's still around and is only 33. Apart from his very first start of this year, he has been pretty much universally awful. Since May 1 he has made 10 starts with a 7.77 ERA and has managed to throw six innings just twice in those 10 outings, along with 10 home runs allowed in those games. In his last start, June 14, he didn't make it out of the first inning while allowing six earned runs. He went to the DL after that start and will now be replacing Chad Billingsley, who took Williams' place on the disabled list.

Had enough? This one could be fun and perhaps awaken the Cubs bats.

Today's game is on WGN. For coverage info in other Midwest markets click here (link opens .pdf).

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 Phillies site The Good Phight. If you do go there to interact with Phillies 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.

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.