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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals Preview, Friday 9/18, 1:20 CT

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The Cubs play their final regular-season games against the Cardinals. (Note the inclusion of "regular-season" in that sentence.)

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Interestingly, for as big as a Cubs/Cardinals series this is -- the first between the two teams where both were in September contention since 2003 -- there's surprisingly little at stake between the two clubs.

The Cardinals have already clinched the season series, leading 10 wins to six with three games remaining. The Cubs trail them by seven games in the division; the only way the Cubs would have any realistic chance of catching them would be to sweep this series, a tall order, especially given the pitching matchups the first two days. Even then the Cubs would be four games back with 13 remaining, still a tough thing to overcome.

So in many ways, this could serve as a preview to a possible Cubs/Cardinals NLDS matchup, which would happen if the Cubs win the wild-card game. The Cubs and Cardinals have never met in a postseason series, and I guarantee one thing -- it would be a fantastic matchup.

Now let's see what the Cubs can do this weekend to reduce their magic number to clinch a wild-card spot (currently nine), and perhaps catch the Pirates so they can host that wild-card game.

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, Schwarber LF, Coghlan RF, Rizzo 1B, La Stella 3B, Montero C, Castro 2B, Haren P, Russell SS

Cardinals lineup:

Carpenter 3B, Pham CF, Heyward RF, Peralta SS, Piscotty LF, Wong 2B, Cruz C, Moss 1B, Lynn P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Dan Haren

Dan Haren


Cubs

vs. Lance Lynn

Lance Lynn


Cardinals

vs. StL

--

vs. Cubs

As you likely remember, these two pitchers matched up September 7 in St. Louis, where Dan Haren had not only his best start of the year, but one of the best of his career. Meanwhile, the Cubs pounded Lance Lynn early and often.

Since then, Haren has had a bad start against the Phillies and Lynn has had a decent one against the Reds, though Lynn gave up a three-run homer to his former teammate Skip Schumaker and the Cardinals lost that game.

I would like today's game to be exactly like the one in St. Louis 11 days ago. That's not too much to ask, is it?

Today's game is on ABC7 Chicago. For coverage info in other Midwest markets click here (link opens .pdf). In most of the USA this game will also be shown on MLB Network (check your cable/satellite listings), including the St. Louis market.

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 Cardinals site Viva el Birdos. If you do go there to interact with Cardinals 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.