A few notes on the Cubs/Astros rivalry, which (assuming the current scheduling scheme sticks around) will now happen only once every three years.
All-time, the Cubs are 332-377 against the Astros, including Friday night's win. They've got a pretty extreme home-road split for those 709 games: 186-170 (.520) at Wrigley Field, and 146-207 (.414) in Houston. Here's the breakdown by Houston ballpark:
Colt Stadium: 9-18
Minute Maid/Enron: 54-52
The Astrodome was a house of pain for the Cubs for pretty much its entire existence. Leo Durocher hated it, hated the electronic scoreboard, hated the Astroturf, at one time ripped a phone off the dugout wall. The irony, of course, is that Leo wound up managing the Astros for a bit more than a full season at the end of his career.
Obviously, things have been better for the Cubs in Houston since the current park opened in 2000. Here's to two more wins this weekend in the home of the Astros.
Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soler LF, Montero DH, Contreras C, Heyward RF, Baez SS, La Stella 2B
Days off for Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell. And before you criticize the selection of Miguel Montero for DH today, please note that he's been a hot hitter lately: .450/.522/.700 (9-for-20) over his last nine games with two doubles and a home run.
Springer RF, Bregman SS, Altuve DH, Gurriel 3B, Gonzalez 2B, Rasmus LF, Reed 1B, Castro C, Marisnick CF
John Lackey threw pretty well in his last outing, his first start since coming off the DL, allowing just one hit in five innings to the Giants. He was limited to 76 pitches and I'm guessing Joe Maddon will keep him on a pitch count today, perhaps 90 or so. He last faced the Astros two years ago; many of those players are gone. Current Astros are a small-sample-size 6-for-31 (.194) against him with no home runs.
Collin McHugh has one career relief appearance against the Cubs, back in 2013 when he was with the Mets. Current Cubs are 5-for-16 against him, an even smaller sample size. Instead, let's look at his entire season, which has been remarkably... consistent. His ERA hasn't been below 4.18 all year, and since the All-Star break he's at 5.90 in 10 starts, with a 1.609 WHIP and 11 home runs allowed in 50⅓ innings. One thing he does do reasonably well is keep walks down (2.4 per nine innings). So the Cubs should be looking for pitches in the zone that they can drive.
Today's game is on Fox. Here's the coverage map. The game is Fox's primary game and will be seen in most of the country; their other game is Red Sox/Blue Jays, which will be seen in the Northeast, Northwest, parts of Florida and a handful of other A.L. markets (Kansas City, Detroit and Cleveland). A reminder that if you have MLB Extra Innings or MLB.tv, you can watch this game via those services if it's not being carried by the Fox station in your market. Announcers for the Cubs game: Matt Vasgersian and John Smoltz.
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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.