The Cubs haven't seen the Marlins in almost a full calendar year, in case these guys seem real unfamiliar to you. The last time they played, the Cubs took two of three at Wrigley Field, July 3-5, 2015.
Since then the Cubs are 100-52.
But the Marlins have also played well, in relative anonymity (they rank 26th in MLB average attendance at 20,379 per game). They're just half a game worse than the Cardinals at 38-34 and only one game out of the second wild-card spot (even though it's a bit early to look at standings like that).
Thus the Cubs should not take this series lightly, especially beginning this 11-game trip. 14 of the Cubs' next 18 games leading into the All-Star break will be away from Wrigley Field.
Here are today's particulars.
Zobrist 2B, Heyward RF, Bryant LF, Contreras 1B, Baez 3B, Russell SS, Almora CF, Ross C, Lester P
Well, that's not too much pressure, right, Willson Contreras? Playing his first MLB game at first base and batting cleanup. Anthony Rizzo left yesterday's game with a bit of back stiffness and Joe Maddon said he might rest him today.
The last time he played first base was one game in last year's Arizona Fall League. Overall he played first base 21 times (18 starts) in his minor-league career.
Hechavarria SS, Prado 3B, Yelich LF, Ozuna CF, Stanton RF, Realmuto C, Johnson 1B, Rojas 2B, Chen P
Jon Lester has a 1.24 ERA over his last five starts and is having an excellent season. He faced the Marlins once in 2015 and it did not go well: June 3 in Miami, he allowed nine hits and six runs in five innings, including a long home run by Giancarlo Stanton. Hoping for better results today.
Wei-Yin Chen is coming off two good years in Baltimore, but this year has been rough for him and his last three starts are particularly bad: 9.88 ERA in 13⅔ innings, including seven (!) home runs. He has never faced the Cubs, but has quite a bit of history with Ben Zobrist from their time in the A.L. East together. Zobrist is 15-for-40 (.375) lifetime vs. Chen with three doubles and three home runs.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago. It's also on MLB Network (outside the Chicago and Miami markets).
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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.