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Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds preview, Thursday 8/17, 1:20 CT

The Cubs look to put some more distance between them and their division rivals.

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Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Brewers have Thursday off, and the Cardinals and Pirates begin a four-game series Thursday evening in Pittsburgh.

Thus all three teams chasing the Cubs in the N.L. Central will have to watch as (hopefully) the Cubs extend their division lead with a win over the Reds in an afternoon affair at Wrigley Field. Rain should be out of the area by game time, but according to that forecast it should be breezy with the wind blowing out.

Time to fire up those Cubs bats, who now lead the National League in home runs (52) since the All-Star break, and have them send some baseballs flying toward the Wrigley Field bleachers.

The Cubs are 20-11 since the All-Star break. That’s a .645 winning percentage. If they maintain that percentage through the season’s remaining 43 games, they’ll go 28-15 for a 91-win season.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

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

Reds lineup:

Hamilton CF, Peraza SS, Votto 1B, Duvall LF, Suarez 3B, Gennett 2B, Ervin RF, Turner C, Feldman P

Jon Lester vs. Scott Feldman

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

Jon Lester has had some really good games this year and some really bad ones. Since the pounding he took just before the All-Star break vs. the Pirates, though, it’s mostly good: 3.26 ERA, 0.931 WHIP in six starts, averaging more than six innings per start.

He has faced the Reds twice this year: 6.17 ERA, 1.629 WHIP. He’s going to have to do better than that this afternoon.

Scott Feldman has faced the Cubs twice this year. May 17 at Wrigley Field, he didn’t get out of the third inning and allowed seven runs. June 30 at Cincinnati, he threw seven shutout innings and struck out seven.

Which is the real Feldman? Hard to say, although he just returned from a month on the disabled list for a knee injury. On his return he got pounded by the Brewers, and overall in his last three starts: 10.80 ERA, 2.000 WHIP, five home runs in 10 innings.

The latter is the guy we want to see today, especially with the wind blowing out.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

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.