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Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals preview, Monday 6/26, 6:05 CT

Winning games in this series will not be easy.

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

As I noted in the preview, the Cubs and Nats have been on similar paths in recent weeks, even though the Nats overall are seven games better than the Cubs.

Nats in June: 12-11. Cubs in June: 13-10

Nats last 10 games: 6-4. Cubs last 10 games: 6-4

So maybe there's not as much difference between the clubs as you might think. All signs point to a split here, given the pitching matchups. I'd certainly take that for this series.

Note of interest: Since this franchise moved from Montreal to Washington in 2005, the series between the Nats and Cubs is exactly even at 40-40. That's 20-19 for the Cubs at Wrigley, 20-21 at Washington.

The all-time series (Cubs vs. Expos/Nats since 1969) is in favor of the Expos by 311-288.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Contreras C, Rizzo 1B, Bryant LF, Happ 2B, Baez SS, Candelario 3B, Almora CF, Butler P, Zagunis RF

Well, that's different.

Nationals lineup:

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

Eddie Butler vs. Gio Gonzalez

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

I wish I knew what to think about Eddie Butler. Sometimes he looks really good. Other times he struggles to get out of the fifth inning. You can see the talent, it's just (I think) a matter of him trusting his stuff and his fielders, something you want any starting pitcher to do.

He has faced the Nats only once, August 8, 2015, and threw six innings and allowed four runs. That isn't awful, though he gave up eight hits and four walks, which ... isn't optimal.

Hoping for better results today.

Gio Gonzalez has had a very good year. Almost all his starts have been good-to-excellent.

Last year he threw 12 total innings against the Cubs and allowed eight earned runs. Most current Cubs have not done well against him, although it's a small sample size (10-for-50, .200). Kris Bryant has a homer off him.

In reality, a RH-heavy lineup like this one should do well against Gio, who has held LH hitters to a .176/.255/.212 slash line this year. RH batters are hitting .247/.331/.436 against him, and all 12 homers off him this year have been hit by righthanders.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Chicago and Washington markets).

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday 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.