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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals preview, Tuesday 9/26, 7:15 CT

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The Cubs can clinch their second straight division title tonight.

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Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

ST. LOUIS — You didn’t think I’d miss this, did you? I made the four-hour drive down to St. Louis this morning, in order to be at Busch Stadium tonight to witness (hopefully) this bit of franchise history, a second straight N.L. Central championship.

It’s HOT here! 91 degrees when I arrived at my hotel. It’s like summer!

A few notes for tonight:

  • The Cubs are at 20 games over .500. It’s the third straight year they’ve reached that level, first time that many consecutive seasons since a five-year run from 1934-38.
  • While individual pitching wins don’t mean that much, if Jake Arrieta wins tonight that’ll be his 15th, and the third straight year of at least 15 wins, the longest such run for a Cubs pitcher since Greg Maddux did it five straight seasons, 1988-92.
  • One more home run for Kris Bryant would give him 30, which would be his second career 30-homer season by his age-25 season. Just two Cubs have ever done that: Ron Santo (1964-65) and Anthony Rizzo (2014-15).
  • Bryant now leads the National League with 6.8 fWAR. Only Aaron Judge (7.6) and Jose Altuve (7.4), tops in the American League, are better this year, per Fangraphs.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Zobrist 2B, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Contreras C, Happ CF, Schwarber LF, Heyward RF, Freeman SS, Arrieta P

Here’s why Addison Russell and Javier Baez are getting today off:

Well, Mike Freeman: please have the best game of your life.

Cardinals lineup:

Carpenter 1B, Pham LF, Fowler CF, Gyorko 3B, DeJong SS, Grichuk RF, Garcia 2B, Kelly C, Martinez P

Jake Arrieta vs. Carlos Martinez

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

Jake Arrieta looked pretty sharp in his first start back after his hamstring injury kept him out for 17 days. He threw 71 pitches and allowed the Brewers one run in five innings. Hopefully he’ll have a somewhat higher pitch limit tonight.

Jake has faced the Cardinals three times this year and allowed six runs in 18 innings (3.00 ERA), with three walks and 17 strikeouts (1.056 WHIP). Current Cardinals are hitting .213 (39-for-183) against him. The one to avoid is Randal Grichuk (7-for-20, two home runs).

The Cubs hit Carlos Martinez hard September 15 at Wrigley Field: seven runs in five innings, including a home run by Kris Bryant. Martinez has a 4.26 ERA and 1.382 WHIP in four starts vs. the Cubs this year and appears to be running out of gas. His last three starts (which includes the above-mentioned outing against the Cubs): 6.62 ERA, 1.415 WHIP.

Time to put his season, and the rest of the division’s, to bed.

Today’s game is on CSN Chicago. It’s also on ESPN (outside the Chicago market; my understanding is that the ESPN broadcast should be available in the St. Louis market).

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday (classic mode) (Note: Going forward, I am going to link to the “classic” Gameday here because MLB.com broke the links I used to use to get to their “new” Gameday. If you click on this link, you can then click on “New Gameday” at the bottom of the page to get to the updated version. Note that the “classic” Gameday won’t load until just before game time.)

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.