A few notes about today's game; more on the pitching matchup below.
Jake Arrieta needs four strikeouts for 1,000 in his career. Of the 996 he has already, 719 are with the Cubs. That currently ranks 26th on the Cubs all-time list. Next up: Orval Overall, 729.
Cubs starting pitchers have been really good recently. Over the last 13 games they have a 2.15 ERA (18 earned runs in 75⅓ innings). That's comparable to what they were doing last year. The Cubs are 8-5 over those 13 games.
Though this 39-37 start seems mediocre compared to last year, in 2015 the Cubs were 41-35 after 76 games, just two games better than this year. That team, as you recall, didn't go on a real hot streak until late July.
Hopefully, that can be replicated in 2017.
Here are today’s particulars.
Rizzo 1B, La Stella 2B, Happ CF, Bryant RF, Montero C, Jay LF, Baez SS, Arrieta P, Candelario 3B
Turner SS, Goodwin LF, Harper RF, Zimmerman 1B, Murphy 2B, Rendon 3B, Wieters C, Taylor CF, Scherzer P
Jake Arrieta vs. Max Scherzer
There are four active pitchers who have thrown multiple no-hitters. Two of them will face each other in this game.
(Aside: If you want to guess who the other two are, here they are, hidden -- highlight the white spaces in this paragraph to reveal the names. Justin Verlander and Homer Bailey)
Max Scherzer and Jake Arrieta have gone in different directions since they both threw no-hitters in 2015. Jake threw another one in 2016 and had a decent season, but has struggled often in 2017. Scherzer continues to be dominant and enters this game leading the major leagues in ERA and WHIP, and the N.L. in ERA+ and FIP. They are the last two N.L. Cy Young Award winners, Jake in 2015, Max in 2016.
This is the first matchup between the previous two years' Cy Young winners since April 27, 2008, when the Padres' Jake Peavy (2007) met the Diamondbacks' Brandon Webb (2006). In a good pitchers' duel, the D-backs won 2-1.
Jake's last start, June 22 vs. the Marlins, was really good. Hopefully he can build on that. His last start against the Nats, May 8, 2016 at Wrigley Field, wasn't that good: five innings, six hits, three runs (two earned). He'll have to do better than that tonight given that the bullpen got a bit overworked last night.
On the other hand, Scherzer has a 0.94 ERA and 0.583 WHIP over his last six starts, with eight walks and 69 strikeouts in 48 innings. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his last outing against the Marlins, only to wind up losing the game due to some sketchy defense.
On the other other hand, Scherzer has a decent, but not great, 3.19 career ERA vs. the Cubs. Last year in Washington, June 13, he took a perfect game into the sixth inning until Addison Russell broke it up with a home run. The Cubs had only two hits that day and Scherzer struck out 11.
On the other other other hand, the Cubs pounded him pretty good May 6, 2016 at Wrigley Field, including four home runs.
I'll be hoping for one of the latter tonight.
Today's game is on ABC7 Chicago. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Chicago and Washington markets).
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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.