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NLDS Game 2 preview: Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals, Saturday 10/7, 4:30 CT

The Cubs go for a 2-0 series lead.

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Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Ah, memories:

Time to make some more good memories like those, tonight in Game 2.


  • The Cubs have played a major league-high 513 games between the regular season and postseason since the start of the 2015 season. The Blue Jays are second with 506 combined games in that span, followed by the Dodgers (503).
  • Jon Lester will make his 20th postseason start tonight. Among active pitchers, only Lester’s teammate John Lackey has more (23).
  • Wade Davis, who recorded the save Friday night, now has a 0.81 ERA (three earned runs in 33⅓ innings) and 0.930 WHIP in 24 career postseason appearances. Put another way: He’s faced 127 batters in postseason games. 31 have reached base (22 hits, nine walks) and three have scored. He has 47 strikeouts among those 127 batters.

Weather forecast: warm and humid, game time temps likely near 80, wind blowing out toward left field.

Lastly, a reminder about the schedule for the first Wrigley Field game in this series: If the Yankees OR Red Sox OR both win Sunday, Monday’s Game 3 will be at 3:08 p.m. CT. If the Yankees and Red Sox BOTH lose, Monday’s Game 3 will be at 4:38 p.m. CT.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Almora CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Contreras C, Russell SS, Zobrist RF, Baez 2B, Happ LF, Lester P

Nationals lineup:

Turner SS, Harper RF, Rendon 3B, Murphy 2B, Zimmerman 1B, Werth LF, Wieters C, Taylor CF, Gonzalez P

The Nats go with the same starting eight position players, in the same order, as in Game 1.

Jon Lester vs. Gio Gonzalez

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Which Jon Lester do we get today? The one who allowed just one run in his final 11 regular-season innings this year, with 11 strikeouts? Or the guy who got pounded for seven runs in Tampa, nine runs by the Reds, or 10 runs without getting out of the first inning against the Pirates?

This was a rough year for Lester, who had stretches where he was very good, interrupted by some truly awful outings.

The good news is this: he has two pretty good starts against the Nationals this year in his game log. In Washington on June 29: six innings, three hits, one run. August 6 at Wrigley Field: 6⅔ innings, six hits, three runs, two of which scored in the seventh after he ran out of gas (112 total pitches).

Lester has a career 2.79 ERA and 1.112 WHIP against the Nats in six starts, and he has held current Nats to a .224 BA (46-for-205) with just one home run (Bryce Harper, and that’s the only hit Harper has off Lester).

As is always the case with Lester on the mound, keeping fast runners off base is key. Thus they’ll need to work especially hard on keeping Trea Turner off base. Fortunately, with Willson Contreras back at full strength, that helps stop the running game.

Gio Gonzalez has had the best year of his career by almost any statistical measure, and his one start against the Cubs, June 26 in Washington, was a good one: six innings, two hits, one run. He did issue five walks that night, and walks are one way this Cubs team might be able to get to him. Gonzalez’ 79 walks were the most issued by any N.L. pitcher this year.

His last four regular-season starts, overall, didn’t add up well: 6.75 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 10 walks allowed in 21⅓ innings. So maybe he’s running out of gas after a 201-inning regular season.

Today's game is on TBS. Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling, Sam Ryan.

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.

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Discuss amongst yourselves.