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Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks preview, Wednesday 9/19, 8:40 CT

At last, the Cubs’ 30-consecutive-day odyssey is ending tonight.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If the Cubs win tonight, it will be their 90th win of the 2018 season, and that would make four consecutive 90-win seasons.

The last time any Cubs team did that was a nine-year run of 90+ win seasons from 1904-12.

Truly, we are living in a golden age for the Cubs franchise.

Info on the Cubs new reliever Allen Webster can be found here.

Wednesday notes:

  • Ben Zobrist had a hit Tuesday and is a very close third in the National League with a .314 batting average this season, trailing only Christian Yelich (.317) and Scooter Gennett (.316). 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.
  • The Cubs bullpen has posted a 3.28 ERA this season, by far the lowest bullpen ERA in the National League, nearly a quarter point ahead of the Padres (3.51 ERA). Cubs relievers have held opponents to a .654 OPS against, also best in the National League
  • Beginning August 16, Cubs pitchers have posted a major league leading 2.73 ERA (88 earned runs in 289⅔ innings) covering 32 games. Cubs starters lead the majors with a 2.50 ERA (50 earned runs in 180 innings) in this span (the Mets are second at 2.68) while Cubs relievers rank fourth in the N.L. with a 3.12 ERA (38 earned runs in 109⅔ innings) in this span.
  • The Cubs have had four pitchers throw exclusively in relief and post sub-2.00 ERAs since the All-Star freak: Jesse Chavez (1.44 ERA), Carl Edwards Jr. (1.71), Pedro Strop (1.77) and Jorge De La Rosa (1.80). In all, only 11 N.L. relievers have posted sub-2.00 ERAs since the break (minimum 20 innings), and four, or 36 percent of them, are members of the Cubs bullpen.

Let’s win this one and then everyone connected with the franchise, at last, gets a well-deserved day off tomorrow.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

This will be the fourth time in Cole Hamels’ 10 starts with the Cubs that Willson Contreras has been the starting catcher.

Diamondbacks lineup:

The D-backs apparently think this is a spring training split-squad game. OK by me.

Cole Hamels, LHP vs. Robbie Ray, LHP

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have on the mound in Arizona to complete the Cubs’ 30-day trek, and to attempt this sweep, than Cole Hamels.

He’s just been outstanding in his nine starts for the Cubs, a savior for the rotation. And the other starters have picked up on his example. He’s allowed a few more runs this month (3.44 ERA, 1.309 WHIP) than in August (0.69 ERA, 1.000 WHIP), but that kind of August performance probably wasn’t sustainable.

Hamels has nine career starts vs. the D-backs, but the last one was in 2013. Current members of the D-backs are hitting .200 (15-for-75) against him, which is likely more relevant. Keep that up and tonight should go in the “W” column.

Robbie Ray had an excellent outing against the Cubs July 25 at Wrigley Field: seven innings, four hits, one run. Despite Ray’s overall mediocre numbers, his last five starts have been excellent: 1.93 ERA, 1.071 WHIP.

He does have a fairly high walk rate (4.9 per nine innings) and has walked 15 in 28 innings in those last five starts. so perhaps the Cubs can wait him out.

Ray also has a much higher ERA at home (5.37 in 10 starts) than on the road (2.95 ERA in 11 starts), and is worse in night games (4.56 ERA in 15 starts) than in day games (3.03 ERA in six starts). Those numbers could work to the Cubs’ advantage tonight.

Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday 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.