The fun fact for today is the most fun fact in 109 years. The Cubs currently lead the National League Central by 17 games. That's the team's largest lead in any league or division at any time since they finished the 1907 season 17 games ahead of the Pirates.
Of course, that team won the World Series after going 107-45 during the regular season. They briefly led earlier that season, at the end of August, by 18½ games.
The franchise record for biggest lead is 20 games, set on the last day of the 1906 season, when they finished 116-36. Imagine how the second-place Giants felt that year -- they finished 96-56, 40 games over .500, and 20 games out of first place!
As far as I know, the biggest margin for any team in any league or division at the end of a season was 22 games, by the 1998 Yankees, who were 114-48. The Red Sox finished second at 92-70. It's certainly possible for the Cubs to get to a 20-game lead by the end of the season.
Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soler LF, Zobrist 2B, Russell SS, Heyward RF, Contreras C, Hammel P
G. Garcia 2B, Grichuk CF, Piscotty RF, Adams 1B, Molina C, Peralta 3B, Moss LF, Diaz SS, J. Garcia P
I won't say this start is "key" for Jason Hammel to be on the postseason roster because it seems likely he might get left off no matter how well he does the rest of the year. However, it would be nice if he could do better than his last four starts, which have been awful (9.35 ERA, 2.192 WHIP, five home runs in 17⅓ innings).
He has made two good starts against the Cardinals this year, allowing just two runs in 13⅓ innings, no homers allowed. Those were in April and May. It would obviously be good for Hammel if he could recapture what he was doing back then.
Like Hammel, Jaime Garcia has had rough times recently (8.06 ERA, 1.753 WHIP, nine home runs in 25⅔ innings over his last five starts). Against the Cubs this year he has made two starts, allowing four runs in 11⅓ innings, which is just about where his season averages stand. No Cubs hitter has homered off him in 2016.
Today's game is on ABC7 Chicago. For affiliate information in the Illinois/Indiana/Iowa Cubs TV market click here.
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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.