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Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks preview, Tuesday 9/18, 8:40 CT

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The Cubs go for two in a row over the D-backs.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Happy birthday to Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, who turns 59 today.

Tuesday notes:

  • This is day 28 of the 30-day marathon in which the Cubs will have played 29 games. They are 17-10 in the 27 games so far. That’s the third-best record in the N.L. in that time span.
  • Ben Zobrist’s two-hit night Monday gave him a .314 BA, which ranks third in the N.L. behind Scooter Gennett (.318) and Christian Yelich (.318). The Cubs haven’t had a Top 5 finish in N.L. batting average since Derrek Lee won the 2005 batting title with a .335 average. (Acknowledging that BA is not the be-all and end-all of stats, winning the BA title is still a fine achievement.)
  • The Cubs bullpen boasts a 3.30 ERA this season, by far the lowest bullpen ERA in the National League, nearly a quarter point ahead of the Padres (3.50). The Cubs pen has limited foes to a .657 OPS against, also lowest in the National League.
  • Under Joe Maddon, the Cubs have put together a 182-97 record after the All-Star break, 85 games above .500, and the team’s .652 post-break winning percentage is the best in baseball by a huge margin. The Indians are a distant second with a .607 mark (167-108) in that span, and the Cardinals are the next closest National League team at 159-119 (.572).
  • Mike Montgomery’s start tonight will be the 87th by a Cubs lefthander this year, two short of the franchise record for a single season set in 1966. Assuming the rotation stays as currently set, the mark will fall Saturday, as the next three probable starters after tonight (Cole Hamels, Jon Lester and Jose Quintana) are all lefties. (H/T: Ed Hartig)

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Diamondbacks lineup:

Mike Montgomery, LHP vs. Matt Andriese, RHP

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Montgomery has been kept on a pretty short leash since he returned from the DL. He hasn’t completed five innings in any of the three starts he’s made since then.

This is a good idea. Montgomery was otherwise on pace to throw the most innings of any season in his big-league career, and you don’t want him overextended.

Montgomery has not faced the D-backs this year; last year he had two relief appearances against them, and he made one start against them as a Mariners rookie in 2015, but there are only a handful of guys on that team who are still on the Diamondbacks.

Current members of the D-backs are hitting .171 (7-for-41) against him with one home run (Paul Goldschmidt). Small sample size caveats apply here, of course.

Matt Andriese came to the Diamondbacks from the Rays in a late July trade. This will be his first start for Arizona. He made four starts for Tampa Bay before the trade, but has mostly been a reliever this year (35 relief appearances).

To put it bluntly, he’s been bad for the D-backs: 12 appearances, 16 innings. 7.31 ERA, 1.688 WHIP, six home runs. He’s never faced the Cubs, and the only Cub who has faced him previously is Ben Zobrist (0-for-1, extremely small sample size).

The Cubs coaching staff should be pretty familiar with him, as he was in the Rays organization from 2014 through this summer and on their big-league roster for all or part of 2015-18, so he had Jim Hickey as his pitching coach for several seasons.

Today’s game is on WGN.

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 Diamondbacks site AZ Snakepit. If you do go there to interact with D-backs 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.