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Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks preview, Sunday 4/21, 1:20 CT

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The Cubs go for two of three over the visitors from Arizona.

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Saturday was not a good day. Today, hopefully, will be better.

Not baseball-related, but fascinating anyway:

That’s Arizona-style dryness. No wonder the D-backs felt so at home Saturday.

Sunday notes:

  • Even with the runs allowed by the bullpen Saturday, the Cubs pen has allowed just six earned runs in its last 35 innings over the last 11 games — a 1.54 ERA over that span.
  • Walk watch: The Cubs drew two walks in Saturday’s defeat, giving them 86 for the season, which ranks fourth in the National League even though the Cubs have played fewer games than two of the three teams ahead of them. That’s 4.53 per game, a pace for 733 for the season.
  • Despite the shutout Saturday, the Cubs’ 108 runs still ranks third in the National League and the 5.68 runs per game still ranks second.
  • The Cubs are 7-3 since April 7, the best record in the N.L. since that date.

Feel better now? If not, maybe this MLB.com article by Richard Justice, in which he asks, “Should these 2018 postseason teams be worried?”, will help. Of the Cubs, he writes:

The Cubs are still the best team in the NL Central, and remember, you heard it here first. To write those words means right-hander Yu Darvish is going to take off and first baseman Anthony Rizzo and third baseman Kris Bryant are going to post their usual numbers. Maddon may have begun the season needing to show he’s the right man for this job. He is.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Diamondbacks lineup:

Tyler Chatwood, RHP vs. Robbie Ray, LHP

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Chatwood. Here is the given reason for today’s switch in starters (originally, Jose Quintana was to have made this start):

The Diamondbacks lead the National League in many offensive categories off lefties — including runs, homers, total bases and batting average — and are slashing .304/.349/.532 (.881 OPS) off southpaws. They’re hitting only .248/.322/.436 (.758 OPS) against righties.

The Dodgers’ disparity isn’t as large — .825 OPS vs. LHP, .884 OPS vs. RHP — but many of their top hitters (Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Joc Pederson) are left-handed and struggle against southpaws.

I suppose this makes sense. It also gives everyone in the rotation an extra day of rest and means the Cubs don’t have to rush Jon Lester back.

Chatwood has made four relief appearances this year, but has not pitched since April 10. The first outing was pretty bad, the other three decent enough. All I can say is: Hope it works. (The D-backs and Dodgers numbers above are through Thursday.)

Robbie Ray has made four starts and is second in the National League in walks (15 in 21⅓ innings). Hey, look — a guy who walks a lot of hitters who isn’t Tyler Chatwood! (Yu Darvish leads the majors with 18 walks.) But, Ray has also struck out 26 in those 21⅓ innings. He’s also allowed two homers, so nearly half the batters he’s faced (43 of 92) have had one of the Three True Outcomes.

Last time the Cubs faced Ray, September 19, 2018 in Phoenix, he threw six shutout innings, allowing just one hit. And when he last pitched in Wrigley, July 25, 2018, similar results: seven innings, one earned run. Current Cubs are hitting just .132 (7-for-53) against him with no home runs.

Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago. This game is also being carried by streaming service ESPN+ — sign up for ESPN+ here. ESPN+ games are blacked out in the participating teams’ home markets. If you have “cut the cord,” NBC Sports Chicago games can be streamed in the Cubs’ market territory via Fubo. Sign up for Fubo here.

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 2019 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used in previous years. 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.