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Chicago Cubs vs. Kansas City Royals Preview, Monday 9/28, 7:05 CT

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The Cubs would surely like to go into the wild-card game with as many wins as possible this week.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs still have a very small chance of finishing tied with the Pirates at the end of the regular season, which would mean the wild-card game would be at Wrigley Field. That very small chance boils down to:

Cubs go 7-0. Pirates must then go 2-4 or worse, tie at 97 wins
Cubs go 6-1. Pirates must then go 1-5 or worse, tie at 96 wins
Cubs go 5-2. Pirates must then go 0-6, tie at 95 wins

Well, I didn't say it would be easy, only that it's still possible. A better scenario would be for the Pirates to catch the Cardinals and tie for the division title, forcing a tiebreaker next Monday. That carries risks for the Cubs, too; if there were a tie, the Pirates might go with Gerrit Cole in a tiebreaker game and then Francisco Liriano would likely face the Cubs in the wild-card game.

That's a longshot, too. The Pirates pretty much have to sweep their series with the Cardinals to have any realistic chance to do that. If they do, the teams would be tied with three games remaining. The Pirates finish the year hosting the Reds; the Cardinals are in Atlanta facing the Braves. If the Cardinals win even one of those three, it's pretty much over.

On to more pertinent things. This odd little interleague rainout makeup game interrupts a couple of weeks of the Cubs finishing the regular season vs. N.L. Central teams. Each team won one of the rain-shortened two-game set in May; I'd expect some Royals fans at tonight's contest as K.C. stays in town the next three days to play the White Sox.

Here are today's particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Fowler CF, Coghlan LF, Bryant 1B, La Stella 3B, Castro 2B, Montero C, Soler RF, Russell SS, Hendricks P

Royals lineup:

Zobrist 2B, Gordon LF, Cain CF, Hosmer 1B, Moustakas 3B, Perez C, Rios RF, Escobar SS, Ventura P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Kyle Hendricks

Kyle Hendricks


Cubs

vs. Yordano Ventura

Yordano Ventura


Royals

vs. KC

--

vs. Cubs

Kyle Hendricks had a really good start against the Brewers his last time out. The Cubs could really use another one of those, as they still really don't have a firm handle on who will start in the postseason past Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. Hendricks could really boost his chances by having a good outing against another team bound for the postseason. He has never faced the Royals and the only player on their roster who's ever seen him is Jonny Gomes (0-for-1).

Yordano Ventura, due to the rainout, is going to wind up starting two of the three games for the Royals against the Cubs this year, because he was the starter May 31. He threw seven strong innings and the Cubs got just four hits and a run off him, the run scoring on an RBI single by Chris Coghlan. Coghlan also doubled off Ventura and so had two of the four hits off him.

But that was in a time when the Cubs were in an offensive slump, the last of a six-game stretch where they scored only 13 total runs. This is a very different Cubs team, and Ventura has a 5.32 ERA over his last four starts (22 innings, 30 hits, 11 walks).

Today's 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 Royals site Royals Review. If you do go there to interact with Royals 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.