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Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals preview, Friday 8/4, 1:20 CT

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This is an important series. But you knew that already.

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Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Everyone’s already said this, but let me add my voice to the chorus: This series is a possible preview of a N.L. division series this October. The Nats are coasting to the N.L. East title (it would take a collapse of monumental proportions for them not to win it) and the Cubs appear in good position to win the N.L. Central again. Presuming that happens, these teams will be the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the N.L. playoffs and would face each other. The Cubs currently trail the Nats by 6½ games. They could pick up some ground by winning this series.

And now, the best news about today’s game: It’s not going to rain (other than maybe a brief sprinkle). It will be unusually chilly for early August, with temperatures possibly not getting out of the 60s, and quite breezy, with west winds at 20+ miles per hour blowing out to right field.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

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

Nationals lineup:

Goodwin CF, Kendrick LF, Harper RF, Murphy 2B, Rendon 3B, Lind 1B, Wieters C, Difo SS, Roark P

Kyle Hendricks vs. Tanner Roark

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Hendricks’ first start back from the DL was OK, not great, not awful. His second start back was better. In 9⅓ innings since his return he hasn’t walked anyone and has struck out eight. However, he’s allowed 14 hits in that time, 11 singles and three doubles.

Conclusion: Kyle’s still pitching to contact, though they’re making a lot of contact. His changeup is working all right with the K’s, but his velocity might still be an issue.

He was on the DL when the Cubs faced the Nats earlier this year. Last year he made two starts against them and allowed three earned runs in 11⅓ innings, striking out eight.

Tanner Roark has not had a very good year, though it’s been better since July 1 (3.52 ERA, 1.043 WHIP in four starts). He didn’t face the Cubs in that June series either, and his only start against the Cubs last year was May 8 at Wrigley Field. He allowed one unearned run in six innings; that was the game the Cubs won on Javier Baez’ walkoff homer in the 13th inning.

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