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Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds preview, Sunday 10/1, 2:20 CT

The Cubs go for their fifth straight win.

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Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

This is the third year that Major League Baseball will play all its final-day games at (approximately) the same starting time. All games today begin between 2:05 p.m. CT and 2:20 p.m. CT, the latter, the starting time at Wrigley Field Sunday afternoon. This is done so if there are any meaningful games on the season’s last day, no team will have an advantage in setting lineups or pitching moves.

Today, though, that won’t matter. All of the postseason positions have been decided; the last were settled Saturday when the Red Sox clinched the A.L. East by defeating the Astros and the Rockies clinched the N.L.’s second wild card when the Brewers lost to the Cardinals.

This is the first time since this last-day procedure was instituted that the Cubs will have their final regular-season game at home. In fact, the Cubs haven’t finished the season at home since October 3, 2012, when they faced the Astros in that team’s last game as a National League squad. The Cubs won that game 5-4 on a walkoff single by Bryan LaHair, and looking at that five-year-old boxscore should amuse you. Those two teams now have a chance to meet in this year’s World Series.

The last time the Cubs had their final game of the regular season at Wrigley Field on a Sunday afternoon, before today, was October 4, 2009, a 5-2 loss to the Diamondbacks. The Cubs lineup in that game might amuse you, too.

The 2009 Cubs were a disappointment. The 2017 Cubs are much better off in every possible way, and might still thrill us this October. Incidentally, the Cubs finished September at 19-9, their best record in any calendar month this year and best overall since they went 22-6 in August 2016.

Site note: Today’s recap might be delayed till early evening as I traditionally spend a bit of extra time at the ballpark after the last regular-season game ends, and might also go out with friends afterward.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Rizzo 1B, Bryant 3B, Jay CF, Zobrist LF, Russell SS, Avila C, Heyward RF, Baez 2B, Montgomery P

Reds lineup:

Hamilton CF, Cozart SS, Votto 1B, Duvall LF, Suarez 3B, Gennett 2B, Ervin RF, Barnhart C, McGuire P

Mike Montgomery vs. Deck McGuire

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Montgomery has done a fine job going back and forth between rotation and bullpen this year. The results overall have been better in the pen (2.49 ERA in 30 relief appearances, 4.34 ERA in 13 starts), but a couple of his recent starts have been really good, especially the six innings of one-hit ball he threw in Tampa a week and a half ago.

Against the Reds this year in six appearances (two starts): 4.03 ERA, 1.219 WHIP in 22⅓ innings. Current Reds are hitting .264 (27-for-83) against him with two home runs (Adam Duvall, Scooter Gennett).

Montgomery will be in the bullpen during the postseason, ready to go multiple innings if needed. This start will be a good opportunity to stretch him out for exactly that. I’d expect him to go no more than five innings today, with several of the relievers who will be on the postseason roster following (those who didn’t throw on Saturday).

Deck McGuire is 28 years old and not really a prospect, so it would appear the Reds are doing him a favor by giving him this start. It will be his second big-league start (sixth overall appearance). The one game he started previously, September 26 vs. the Brewers, did not go well: three innings, six hits, two walks, six runs (four earned).

He’s never faced the Cubs; he faced a couple of current Cubs when he was pitching for Triple-A Memphis in the Cardinals organization last year. Willson Contreras went 2-for-2 against him in this game, obviously an extremely small sample size.

Today’s game is on WGN.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday (classic mode) (Note: Going forward, I am going to link to the “classic” Gameday here because broke the links I used to use to get to their “new” Gameday. If you click on this link, you can then click on “New Gameday” at the bottom of the page to get to the updated version. Note that the “classic” Gameday won’t load until just before game time.) game preview

SB Nation game preview

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The 2017 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2016. 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.

Get tickets to Cubs games from our partner StubHub here.

Discuss amongst yourselves.