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Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks preview, Friday 8/11, 8:40 CT

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The Cubs have never played well at Chase Field. It’s time that changed.

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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

This series will be the final three regular-season games the Cubs will play outside the Eastern and Central time zones. That’s a good thing for keeping the team on a regular schedule and avoiding jet lag. Hopefully, that will manifest itself in good play.

The Cubs won three of four last year at Chase Field in the season’s first week. It was the first time any Cubs team had won a series in Phoenix since 2010, and those are the only series wins in this ballpark since 2003.

Cubs starting pitchers have posted a 3.11 ERA (51 ER/147⅔ IP) and have a .217 opposing batting average and an excellent 1.05 WHIP in the first 24 games since the All-Star break. The .217 opponent average is second and the 1.05 WHIP leads all major league starting rotations in that span while the 3.09 ERA is second (Dodgers, 2.72).

That kind of performance this weekend will go a long way toward securing a series win.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Jay CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Schwarber LF, Avila C, Heyward RF, Baez SS, Lackey P

Diamondbacks lineup:

Peralta LF, Pollock CF, Lamb 3B, Goldschmidt 1B, Martinez RF, Descalso 2B, Marte SS, Herrmann C, Walker P

John Lackey vs. Taijuan Walker

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

No matter what you think of John Lackey, he has actually pitched quite well since the All-Star break: four starts, 3.00 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, and the Cubs have won all four (and actually five in a row started by him).

He has not faced the D-backs this year. The last time he pitched in Chase Field was his first start as a Cub, April 7, 2016, and it did not go well: he allowed six runs in the first three innings and that was the day Kyle Schwarber was injured (obviously, the latter was not Lackey’s fault).

Later last year, June 3, 2016 at Wrigley Field, he threw 6⅔ shutout innings against Arizona and struck out nine. That’s the kind of outing we’d like tonight.

Taijuan Walker was acquired by the D-backs in the trade that sent Jean Segura (and others) to Seattle last offseason. He has had a pretty good, very consistent year for them, and has turned into a hitter, too: .216/.237/.297 (8-for-37 with a home run).

This will be his first career start against the Cubs. The only Cubs he’s ever faced are Ben Zobrist (1-for-2) and Alex Avila, who’s 3-for-6 against him with a home run. Small sample size, but it would be nice to see Avila take him deep again tonight.

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.

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