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Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds Preview, Thursday 5/18, 1:20 CT

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The Cubs have a chance for sweeploaf today.

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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The last five Cubs No. 1 draft picks (Javier Baez, Albert Almora Jr., Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ) all played in Wednesday's game. That's a first in franchise history, and another No. 1 pick (Addison Russell, 2012 Athletics) also played Wednesday.

That's a testament to good drafting, trades and player development.

Nice work, Theo & Co. Now let's sweep the Reds.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

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

Reds lineup:

Hamilton CF, Cozart SS, Votto 1B, Duvall LF, Suarez 3B, Schebler RF, Peraza 2B, Barnhart C, Garrett P

Jon Lester vs. Amir Garrett

As usual when Jon Lester faces the Reds, Billy Hamilton will be a problem, both for his ability to bunt, and the threat that he'll steal bases if he reaches. Hamilton is 7-for-13 lifetime vs. Lester with two home runs (!), while other Reds batters are hitting just .222 off Lester (26-for-117). Keep Hamilton off base and good things should follow. Lester is actually having a more typical year for him, as compared to last year: his numbers and peripherals are similar to his career norms (though his WHIP and BB/9 are a bit high).

Amir Garrett was the Reds' No. 2 or No. 3 prospect entering this season, depending on what ranking you looked at, and his first six starts did not disappoint. Five of the six were very good to excellent; he got pounded for nine earned runs in 3⅓ innings by the Brewers April 24, which accounts for most of his 4.25 season ERA (and three of the six homers he's allowed). He took a brief detour to Triple-A last week, and is now back to make his seventh big-league start. He has never faced the Cubs or anyone on the current roster.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

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.