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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Game 1 Preview, Tuesday 9/15, 12:35 CT

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The Cubs face another doubleheader today.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Today's twin bill is the Cubs' fourth of the season.

If that seems like a lot, it is. The Cubs haven't played four doubleheaders in a season since 2002, and that season ought to be forgotten, as it wasn't very good.

These doubleheaders are quite a bit more important, obviously. In the three previous 2015 doubleheaders, the Cubs have swept two (at home vs. the Cardinals and at Philadelphia) and split one (at Cincinnati).

The Cubs got no help in the wild-card race Monday night, as both of their nearest competitors, the Giants and Nationals, won.

I don't need to tell you how important these games are, so after a brief note about Fan Duel and logistics for today, we'll get right to the numbers for today.

Logistics: I'll write a recap of Game 1 which will post to the front page shortly after the game ends. Then there will be a separate preview for Game 2 after that -- I'll note the posting time for the preview in the recap. All the threads for both games will go in one StoryStream.

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, Schwarber LF, Coghlan RF, Rizzo 1B, Bryant 3B, Montero C, Castro 2B, Hammel P, Russell SS

Pirates lineup:

Polanco RF, Walker 2B, McCutchen CF, Kang 3B, Alvarez 1B, Snider LF, Mercer SS, Stewart C, Cole P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Jason Hammel

Jason Hammel


Cubs

vs. Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole


Pirates

vs. Pit

--

vs. Cubs

Jason Hammel has, hopefully, gotten through his late-season rough patch. He had one last year, too, before finishing strong for the A's. He faced the Pirates twice in April. One of those starts was pretty mediocre, but the other one was excellent. He'll need to be excellent today because of his opponent...

Gerrit Cole is one of the best pitchers in baseball. He shut down the Cubs with only one run (an Anthony Rizzo homer) April 29 at Wrigley Field, but the Cubs beat him May 16 at PNC Park. Cole has been a little bit "worse" since August 1, although a 3.35 ERA in eight starts isn't really "worse." It is a bit higher than his ERA (2.24) going into August, though, and Cole has now pitched significantly more innings this year than in any of his previous seasons.

The Cubs will have to be really, really good to win this game.

Today's first game is on CSN Chicago.

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 Piratess site Bucs Dugout. If you do go there to interact with Pirates 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.