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2017 National League Championship Series Game 4 preview: Cubs vs. Dodgers, Wednesday 10/18, 8 p.m. CT

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The Cubs must win or their season will end.

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Here is how I am approaching tonight’s game.

It has been a beautiful day in Chicago. Temperatures were in the 70s, way above average for mid-October. Skies are beautiful and clear and there’s zero chance of any rain.

And the Chicago Cubs are playing baseball. It might be the last time the Cubs take the field for more than four months, and when that happens some of the players on tonight’s roster won’t be there, and new ones will take their place.

So whatever the result of this game, and of course I hope the Cubs win, I am going to enjoy the heck out of Chicago Cubs baseball tonight, because soon it won’t be around for a while, and I’m going to miss it and I’m sure you will too.

#LetsGo

Notes:

  • Cubs starting pitchers have posted a 2.40 ERA (11 ER/41⅓ IP) in eight postseason games. The 2.40 ERA is second among all starting rotations this October while the rotation’s .184 batting average against is tied for second (Washington’s starters logged a 2.22 ERA and a .138 average against the Cubs).
  • Kyle Schwarber’s home run in Game 3 was his sixth in the postseason, tying him with Anthony Rizzo for the franchise record. STATS Inc says Kyle is just the third N.L. player to hit at least six postseason home runs by his age 24 season, joining Albert Pujols (eight) and Andruw Jones (seven).
  • The Cubs are the first team to score first in the first three games of a postseason series and lose all three games since the 2009 Twins (division series vs. Yankees). The last to do it in a seven-game series: 1990 Red Sox, ALCS vs. Athletics.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Almora CF, Schwarber LF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Contreras C, Russell SS, Baez 2B, Jay RF, Arrieta P

Dodgers lineup:

Taylor SS, Bellinger 1B, Turner 3B, Puig RF, Ethier LF, Granderson CF, Grandal C, Utley 2B, Wood P

Jake Arrieta vs. Alex Wood

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Arrieta made one appearance in the division series against the Nationals, Game 4 at Wrigley Field. He threw way too many pitches, 90 in four innings, and issued five walks. This has been a common thread for Cubs pitchers this postseason, way too many walks. Jake allowed just one unearned run, but had to be lifted after that high pitch count.

He had a reasonably good outing against the Dodgers May 26 in Los Angeles: six innings, four runs, nine strikeouts. The Cubs failed to score that night. They will obviously have to do better than that.

As you know, this could very well be Jake’s final start as a Cub. If it is, I salute him for five years in the blue pinstripes that have ranged from very good to outstanding. When his career is over, these five years will likely stand out as his five best.

Alex Wood was Jake’s opponent in the May 26 game. He threw five shutout innings, also with a high pitch count (91). Wood had an outstanding regular season, although he seemed to run out of gas late in the year. In September, he posted a 4.03 ERA and 1.279 WHIP in five starts, with five home runs allowed in 29 innings.

He hasn’t pitched since September 26. That could either be good (rest) for him, or bad (rust). Current Cubs are a small-sample-size 14-for-63 (.222) against him with one home run. That home run was hit by Kris Bryant, who really does need to get going if the Cubs are going to come back in this series.

Today’s game is on TBS. Announcers: Brian Anderson, Ron Darling and Sam Ryan.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday (classic mode) (Note: Going forward, I am going to link to the “classic” Gameday here because MLB.com 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.)

Baseball-reference.com 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.