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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Sunday 7/9, 12:10 CT

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The Cubs go for a series win over the Pirates.

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Jon Durr/Getty Images

While the Cubs once again try for meatloaf in this series -- something they haven't had in almost three weeks -- let's look ahead:

Starter Kyle Hendricks (tendinitis in his right hand) checked out fine a day after his bullpen session Friday and will make a minor-league start Monday for Double-A Tennessee.

"Once we get that done and accomplished and he's well we'll be able then to try to figure out the post-All-Star break rotation stuff," Maddon said.

As of now there are no probable pitchers listed on the Cubs website past today. If Hendricks does well and has no issues with his hand after the rehab start Monday, it's possible he could start the second game after the break Saturday, July 15 in Baltimore. I'm assuming that Jon Lester, who's going today, would start the Friday, July 14 game on normal rest.

Last year, the Cubs ended a horrific 5-15 stretch by defeating the Pirates in the final game before the All-Star break. Here's hoping they can do the same, beat the Pirates today, and use that as a jumpstart to a good second half.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Jay CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Happ 2B, Schwarber LF, Contreras C, Heyward RF, Russell SS, Lester P

Pirates lineup:

Harrison LF, Cervelli C, McCutchen CF, Freese 3B, Bell 1B, Osuna RF, Mercer SS, Moroff 2B, Taillon P

Jon Lester vs. Jameson Taillon

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Lester has been pretty consistent all year, but the Cubs need him to be more than that. It would be nice if he had a second half like last year's. (It would be nice if all the Cubs would have a second half like last year's, but that's another story.)

Jon has two starts vs. the Pirates this year. The one at Wrigley was good, but the one in Pittsburgh, not so much.

That's a reflection of Jon's entire season. He has a 3.19 ERA and 1.097 WHIP at home, compared to 4.96 and 1.500 on the road. It would be nice to see him finish the first half strong with a good outing today.

Jameson Taillon was Lester's opponent in that Wrigley game back in April. He, too, threw well -- the Pirates won that game off the Cubs bullpen. After missing some time this year for treatment of testicular cancer, Taillon faced the Cubs June 18 in Pittsburgh and they hit him pretty hard, eight hits and four runs in five innings.

Another one like that would work for me.

Today's game is on WGN. It’s also on TBS (outside the Chicago and Pittsburgh markets).

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.

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Discuss amongst yourselves.