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Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals preview, Saturday 8/11, 3:05 CT

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The Cubs go for two in a row over the Nats.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Mike Montgomery is going to spend a few days in the bullpen:

The Cubs will skip Mike Montgomery’s next start, but manager Joe Maddon said not to sound the alarms.

“We’re just trying to be pro-active with Mike,” Maddon said before Friday’s game against the Nationals. “He is pitching so well, and we want to monitor his time out there so that he can be effective into September. He will fold back in the bullpen this weekend at some point.”

Rather than have Montgomery start against the Brewers on Tuesday or Wednesday, the Cubs will use Monday’s off day to push him back to Aug. 18 in Pittsburgh.

This is a good idea. Montgomery seems to do better the less he works; he was very good for the first month or so in the rotation, less so after that. If he’s not needed in relief over the next few days, that would give him 10 days off between starts. At this time of year, more rest is likely better.

Saturday notes:

  • Anthony Rizzo is one hit short of 1,000 for his career and since being moved to the leadoff spot: .355/.455/.602 (33-for-93) with six doubles, a triple, five home runs and 14 walks. Team record: 15-10. For those saying “Move Rizzo down in the lineup!” I suggest you look at the .455 OBP over 25 leadoff games. Who else on this roster could do that?
  • With Friday’s win, the Cubs are 14-6 against N.L. East teams, with 12 remaining (six vs. the Nationals, three vs. the Mets and three vs. the Phillies).
  • Javier Baez is the third Cub in franchise history to reach 30 doubles, five triples, 25 homers and 15 stolen bases in a single season, joining Ryne Sandberg (1985 and 1992) and Alfonso Soriano (2007). (H/T: Chris Kamka)
  • The Cubs continue to lead the N.L. in BA, OBP, OPS and OPS+, and their run differential of +97 is second by just one run in the league to the Dodgers’ +98.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Nationals lineup:

Jon Lester, LHP vs. Tanner Roark, RHP

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The good news is that the Cubs are 17-6 in the 23 games Jon Lester has started.

The bad news is that they’ve lost three of his last four starts and in those four starts, he has posted an 8.53 ERA, 1.895 WHIP and has six home runs allowed in 19 innings. Yikes, that’s pretty bad.

Is Lester going through one of those “dead arm” periods that some starters have? Or is he more seriously injured? No one’s saying.

Jon made two regular-season starts vs. the Nats in 2017 and posted a 2.84 ERA and 1.026 WHIP against them, pretty good considering his overall 2017 season wasn’t that good. Current Nats are hitting .243 (46-for-189) against him with two home runs.

Tanner Roark isn’t having a good year overall, but his last three starts have been excellent: 0.82 ERA, 0.682 WHIP, just one walk in 22 innings. That includes eight shutout innings against a pretty good Brewers offense July 25.

He has not faced the Cubs since May 8, 2016, when he threw six innings and allowed one unearned run. Current Cubs are hitting .150 (9-for-60) against him with three home runs, two by Anthony Rizzo.

Hopefully, we get the bad version of Roark this afternoon.

Today’s game is on ABC7 Chicago. It’s also on FS1 (no blackouts).

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 Nationals site Federal Baseball. If you do go there to interact with Nationals 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.