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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals preview, Sunday 6/17, 7:05 CT

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The Cubs go for the sweep!

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

At the time of this post, the Brewers and Phillies have not quite completed their very long afternoon game in Milwaukee. However, the Phillies have a four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, so it seems very likely the Cubs will begin this evening’s action in a virtual tie for first place in the N.L. Central, and they can thus take over first place with a win tonight.

Those two teams have completed their season series as of today. Assuming the 10-6 score today holds up, the Brewers will have outscored the Phillies 47-27 in the six games — and each team won three games.

Now, a note about the Cubs vs. Cardinals schedule for the rest of this year, which gets a bit odd after tonight.

They won’t see each other again for four and a half weeks, until the day after the All-Star break (July 19), when they will begin what is now a five-game series at Wrigley Field (the fifth game due to the rainout on April 16).

Then they’ll meet again the following weekend for a three-game series in St. Louis, eight games in 11 days against each other. That will go a long way toward deciding how the division race shapes up, I’d think.

And then... nothing until the last three games of the season, September 28-30 at Wrigley Field. Who knows? Those games could mean something... or nothing, it’s possible everything’s all sewn up by then.

The teams have split two at Wrigley, the Cardinals swept in St. Louis in May and the Cubs go for a sweep tonight.

Notes:

  • The Cubs have equaled their high-water mark of 13 games above .500 for the third time this season. Last year, the Cubs did not reach 13 games above .500 for the first time until they were 73-60 following game No. 133 on August 31.
  • Cubs starting pitchers are 8-5 with a 2.70 ERA (31 ER/103⅓ IP) in the team’s last 18 games since May 28, with the club going 13-5 in those contests. Cubs starters have walked 38, struck out 81 and held the opponent to a .201 average (74-for-369) and .619 OPS in that span. Also since May 28, Cubs starters’ 2.70 ERA and .201 opponent BA are the best marks in the majors.
  • Jason Heyward is hitting .354 (23-for-65) with a .921 OPS in his last 15 games since May 29 and his 23 hits in those 15 games are tied for sixth-most in the National League.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Cardinals lineup:

Jose Quintana, RHP vs. Jack Flaherty, RHP

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Jose Quintana, last five starts: 2.48 ERA, 0.966 WHIP. That’s the Quintana the Cubs thought they were getting from the White Sox last year. Keep up the good work.

Q’s only start vs. the Cardinals this year, May 4 in St. Louis, though, was a struggle. He slogged through 88 pitches over four innings and allowed four hits and four walks. That won’t cut it tonight; hopefully the better Q we’ve seen lately takes over. Like his teammate Kyle Hendricks, Q is better in night games (career 3.24 ERA, 118 starts) than day games (career 4.08 ERA, 81 games, 78 starts). Perhaps that will make the difference tonight. Or maybe this will — Q has been much better on the road (2.28 ERA, 1.215 WHIP in seven starts) than at Wrigley Field (6.00 ERA, 1.500 WHIP in six starts).

Jack Flaherty is making his 14th big-league start. He began late last year with the Cardinals and struggled at age 21; he’s been much better this year and looks like he’s in the majors to stay at 22.

His only career appearance against the Cubs is one inning of relief September 25, 2017 in St. Louis. He retired Jon Jay, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in order. This tells us pretty much nothing.

He’s got a good K rate and walk rate, so the Cubs will likely be looking to put the ball in play tonight.

Today’s game is on ESPN.

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 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.