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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Preview, Thursday 9/29, 6:05 CT

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The Cubs play their final game against the Pirates for 2016.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last few years, the Cubs have won 14 games in a single season from a few teams: from the Brewers last year and the Pirates in 2008, for example.

But it has been quite some time since the Cubs defeated any club 15 times in a single season. The last time was 1978, when they went 15-3 against the Cardinals. That year, they won the first 12 games they played vs. St. Louis before losing to them September 15 at Wrigley Field. (H/T to Ed Hartig for the historical info.)

If the Cubs win tonight, that makes 15 wins against the Pirates this year (against only four losses). Hope they can do it. At 13-3 against the Reds so far in 2016, they have a chance to win 15 (or 16!) against Cincinnati, too.

Good times. Keep it going!

Here are today's particulars.

Cubs lineup:

La Stella 3B, Almora CF, Russell SS, Contreras LF, Baez 1B, Szczur RF, Federowicz C, Kawasaki 2B, Zastryzny P

If that doesn't say "spring training split squad" all over it, I don't know what does.

The Pirates lineup, again, has not been released two hours before game time. Did they forget again?

Rob Zastryzny

vs

Ivan Nova

Well, this is interesting. A guy making his first big-league start against someone who's never faced the Cubs.

Rob Zastryzny will head up a "bullpen day" in which he'll likely go no more than 50 or maybe 60 pitches. He's pitched reasonably well in relief so far this year, although he did allow a run in a one-inning appearance against the Pirates August 29 at Wrigley Field after he loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. A sac fly scored the run in the 13th inning, but the Cubs won the game in the bottom of the inning, giving him his first major-league win. Hope he has a better game tonight.

The Pirates sent a couple of minor leaguers to the Yankees for Ivan Nova at the trading deadline, as they needed to fill a rotation hole they made when they swapped Francisco Liriano to the Blue Jays. Nova has actually pitched fairly well for the Bucs: 3.19 ERA, 1.129 WHIP, 2.74 FIP in 10 starts. He has never faced the Cubs and the only Cub who has more than a handful of at-bats against him is Ben Zobrist (6-for-32).

Today's game is on WGN. For affiliate information in the Illinois/Indiana/Iowa Cubs TV market click here.

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 Pirates site Bucs Dugout. If you do go there to interact with Pirates 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 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.