Okay, Cubs, the spring and summer of 2016 are all yours.
With the elimination of the Blackhawks from postseason play Monday night, all of Chicago's sports attention can be placed on the North Siders. (Yes, I am aware the White Sox are off to a good start. That's not something we'll focus on here, though.)
This Cubs team seems to thrive on attention, rather than have more pressure as a result. That's largely because of Joe Maddon's leadership, as well as the huge amount of talent on this team.
Go get 'em, Cubs. The entire city (well, except for fans of a certain South Side team) will be watching.
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Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Heyward RF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Soler LF, Russell SS, Ross C, Hendricks P
Miguel Montero was a late scratch from the lineup today due to back stiffness. He's day to day. Javier Baez is the emergency catcher.
Santana RF, Gennett 2B, Lucroy C, Carter 1B, Nieuwenhuis CF, Hill 3B, Villar SS, Flores LF, Nelson P
Kyle Hendricks had a rough outing in his last start, one of just two Cubs starts this year where the starter failed to go six innings. He's still got a good WHIP -- 1.167 -- and if he keeps throwing strikes, good things should happen. Current Brewers are a small-sample-size 7-for-45 (.156) against Kyle with no extra-base hits and 11 strikeouts.
Jimmy Nelson is off to a decent start with the Brewers with a 3.46 ERA in four starts. However, there are two of his numbers that should start Cubs hitters salivating. First, he's issued 10 walks in 26 innings, so the patient Cubs should have a good chance of getting on base. Second, he's currently leading N.L. pitchers with six home runs allowed. Even on a cool night like tonight, that might wake up Cubs power bats at home.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago.
Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.
Baseball-reference.com game preview
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The 2016 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used at the end of 2015. Here's how it works.
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.