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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Preview, Wednesday 9/16, 6:05 CT

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The Cubs turn to their ace, who is going for his 20th win of the season.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Cubs 20-game winners in the expansion era (since 1961):

1963: Dick Ellsworth
1964: Larry Jackson
1967: Fergie Jenkins
1968: Fergie Jenkins
1969: Fergie Jenkins, Bill Hands
1970: Fergie Jenkins
1971: Fergie Jenkins
1972: Fergie Jenkins
1977: Rick Reuschel
1992: Greg Maddux
2001: Jon Lieber

After tonight, I hope to be able to add Jake Arrieta's name to that list. FWIW, the last Cubs pitcher to win more than 20 games is Jenkins, who won 24 in 1971. Jenkins won 22 in 1970 and 21 in 1969; Jackson won 24 in 1964, a very underrated season for him, and Ellsworth won 22 in 1963 with a 2.11 ERA, and in any other year might have won the Cy Young Award, except for some guy named Koufax, who went 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA. Sandy Koufax' Cy Young that year was unanimous.

Arrieta has a real shot at this year's Cy Young, but more important than that is winning tonight's game.

Here are today's particulars.

Cubs lineup:

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

Jake Arrieta bats ninth for the first time this year, and the Cubs pitcher bats ninth for back-to-back games, also for the first time in 2015.

Pirates lineup:

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

Today's Starting Pitchers

Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta


Cubs

vs. A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett


Pirates

vs. Pit

--

vs. Cubs

You all know how awesome Jake Arrieta has been for pretty much this entire season. Over his last five starts he has an ERA of 0.24 (two runs in 37 innings) and a WHIP of 0.622. Here's one thing that hasn't gotten much attention: his strikeouts. Jake has 204 K's. He should have four more regular-season starts. If he can strike out 33 total batters in those four starts, that would be more K's than any Cubs starter since Mark Prior K'd 245 in 2003, and 237 would be the seventh-most of any Cubs pitcher since 1945.

Just in case you didn't think his 2015 season was amazing enough.

A.J. Burnett went out with an elbow injury at the end of July. At first it was thought he wouldn't be back, but here he is, having returned September 10 for a five-inning, three-run outing against the Brewers. He has been tough on the Cubs historically and this year is no exception: two starts, 13 innings, seven hits, one run, although the Cubs won the first of those games off the Pirates' bullpen and in the second one the Cubs got five walks off Burnett but went 0-for-7 with RISP.

Arrieta was Burnett's opponent in both of those games, and gave up two runs total in 14 innings. He also started August 4 against the Bucs in PNC Park and threw seven shutout innings.

Man, this one is going to be a good pitchers' duel.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago. In most of the USA this game can also be seen on ESPN (check your cable satellite listings).

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. 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.