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Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians preview, Wednesday 5/23, 7:05 CT

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A win would give the Cubs a split of this series, and also the season series, with the Indians.

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

I’m thinking of a recent team. At one point in their season they were 27-20, just a game better than the Cubs are now, in third place, 3½ games out of first place.

Can you guess the team and where they wound up?

That’s the 2017 Dodgers, who then went on an incredible run — at one point going 64-16 — and won 104 games.

I’m thinking of another recent team. At one point in their season they were 24-23, a couple games worse than the Cubs are now, in second place, three games out of first place.

Can you guess the team and where they wound up?

That’s the 2017 Indians, who then went on an incredible run, including 22 straight wins late in the season, and won 102 games.

I’m thinking of still another recent team. I don’t think you’ll have trouble guessing this one — they were at one point 43-45, 5½ games out of first place. Of course, that’s last year’s Cubs, who then went 49-25 and won the N.L. Central comfortably.

The point is, good teams often get off to mediocre starts. The Cubs, over the last three seasons, have gone 118-57 (.674) after July 31, in each of those seasons having the best record in the National League over that span.

This has been a hallmark of Joe Maddon’s teams in his three years in Chicago. I don’t see any reason to think that, with essentially the same core of players, it won’t happen again in 2018. At some point these talented players will turn things on and go on a long winning streak.

So you can stop worrying so much.

Notes:

  • The Cubs lead the majors with 17 triples. They had 29 all of last season.
  • The Cubs had 10 hits Tuesday, despite the loss. They have now had 10+ hits in five straight games for the first time since September 7-11, 2015. Last streak longer: seven straight 10+ hit games, August 29-September 5, 2010.
  • The Cubs lead the majors with a .350 OBP in May. Notable Cubs performances in May include Albert Almora Jr. (.353 BA, .414 OBP), Kris Bryant (.316 BA, .409 OBP, 6 HR), Anthony Rizzo (21 RBI) and Ian Happ (.450 OBP, 5 HR).

Also tonight:

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Indians lineup:

Jon Lester, LHP vs. Adam Plutko, RHP

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

Jon Lester threw seven solid innings (four hits, three runs, all runs on solo homers) against the Indians in Cleveland April 25. The offense couldn’t score that night, so the Cubs lost.

Since then Jon has been pretty much lights-out: 1.59 ERA, 1.235 WHIP in four starts. He’s been the Cubs’ most consistent starter for the last month. Hopefully that continues tonight.

Adam Plutko was the Indians’ 11th-round pick in 2013. His minor-league numbers have been middling, though pretty good this year (2.25 ERA, 0.818 WHIP in seven starts). His big-league experience consists of two relief appearances in 2016 and a start in the second game of a doubleheader against the Blue Jays May 3, in which he threw 7⅓ innings and allowed one run.

You know what happens when Cubs hitters face pitchers like this. Clearly, we are doomed.

Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Chicago and Cleveland markets). The MLBN broadcast is one of their “showcase” games and will be called by Bob Costas and Jim Kaat.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Indians site Let’s Go Tribe. If you do go there to interact with Indians fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

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.