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Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds preview, Friday 5/18, 6:10 CT

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Last time the Cubs were in Cincinnati, it rained. Perhaps it won’t this weekend.

Hopefully, KB, there will be baseball tonight.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Guess what? It might rain tonight during the game!

So, here’s something to keep handy. (This seemed to work keeping rain away in the Atlanta series, as the only rainout happened when I didn’t post it.)


  • The Cubs are one game better in 2018 after 40 games (22-18) than they were in 2017 (21-19). Other comparisons: 209 runs this year, 197 last year; BA .253 this year, .240 last year; SLG .425 this year, .401 last year; ERA 3.46 this year, 3.94 last year. Feel better now?
  • Kris Bryant’s 1.024 OPS leads the National League and is sixth overall in MLB. He has homered in three of his last seven games, in five of his last 10 and in six of his last 13.
  • Anthony Rizzo’s 24 home runs against the Reds are his most against any team. The 24 homers against Cincinnati are fourth-most among active players, trailing only Albert Pujols (47), Ryan Braun (41) and Andrew McCutchen (29).
  • Speaking of home runs, the Cubs did not homer in Atlanta and thus remain two homers short of 14,000 in franchise history. (H/T Ed Hartig)
  • Pedro Strop has 10⅔ scoreless innings since April 21, holding opponents to a .114 (4-for-35) average and a .276 OPS.
  • Happy 24th birthday to new Cubs lefthander Randy Rosario.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Reds lineup:

Jon Lester, LHP vs. Homer Bailey, RHP

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Lester, last five starts: 1.82 ERA, 1.146 WHIP. After a bit of a rough start, Jon’s been really good this year.

If that sounds familiar, yes, you read that paragraph last night, because Lester was supposed to start against the Braves in Atlanta. Instead, he gets his start moved to this game, and Jon made four starts against the Reds last year. One of them was among the worst starts of his career, an outing that sent him to the disabled list. The rest of them were decent, and overall in six career starts at GABP Lester has a 3.66 ERA and only four home runs allowed in 39⅓ innings, pretty good for that launching pad.

There’s something that’s been bothering me about this photo of Jon (the only one I have available in this format), and once I tell you about you won’t be able to unsee it. Look at the way Lester’s cap is mushing down the top of his left ear. Wonder why that happened?

There was a time when Homer Bailey was a good pitcher. He threw a no-hitter and the Reds made the postseason.

Then he got hurt, and he simply hasn’t been any good since he came back. Since 2015, in 35 starts he’s thrown 173⅔ innings. Now already you know that’s bad, because that’s an average of only 4.96 innings per start. And in those 35 starts he’s posted a 6.17 ERA and 1.647 WHIP.

Mainly, the Reds are doing this because they’re paying him a lot of money and I guess they don’t want to just eat it. Bailey’s making $21 million this year and he’s under contract for $23 million next year, plus a team option for 2020 that the Reds will almost certainly decline and pay him a $5 million buyout.

It’s too bad, really, because Bailey did have talent. He’s just been too injured.

He made two starts against the Cubs last year and allowed eight hits, six walks and six runs in 8⅔ innings. Anthony Rizzo just crushes him: .409 (9-for-22) with three doubles and two home runs. Perhaps this will be a good time for Rizzo to get out of his current 0-for-11 slump Rizzo’s BABIP for the season is .186, compared to .287 for his career prior to 2018. You have to figure that’ll revert to the mean eventually.

Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

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The 2018 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2017. 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.

Discuss amongst yourselves.