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Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals preview, Friday 5/17, 6:05 CT

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The Cubs hope to change things up on the second leg of their road trip.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Last time the Cubs were in Washington, as you likely recall, it rained. A lot. Tonight, there’s a small chance of storms, but they should get the game in.

Notes:

  • Despite their last two losses, the Cubs have won 13 of their last 17 games starting April 27 to go from a 12-12 record to their current 25-16, nine games above .500. The Cubs are also 22-8 (.733) in their last 30 games starting April 11, the best record in the majors in this span. The Yankees are next closest with a 21-9 mark, while the Dodgers are the next closest N.L. club with a 21-11 record.
  • More on the club record: The Cubs have passed the quarter mark of their 2019 schedule with a 25-16 record through 41 games, their best mark at this point since going 29-12 in 2016. The Cubs were 21-20 through 41 games in 2017 and 23-18 through 41 games in 2018.
  • With his first strikeout tonight, Cubs starter Cole Hamels will move into sole possession of 40th place on the all-time strikeout list, as he is currently tied with fellow southpaw and fellow San Diego native Mark Langston with 2,464 career K’s. Strikeout No 2,465 will also give Hamels sole possession of ninth place in MLB history among left-handed pitchers. More on Hamels below.
  • Kris Bryant has reached safely in each of his last 25 games since April 17, the longest streak of his career and the longest active streak in the majors. KB has a .439 OBP in this stretch, the third-highest OBP in the N.L. with more walks (22) than strikeouts (17), and a 1.068 OPS. Ben Zobrist is the last Cub to have an on-base streak as long as Bryant’s (25 games, April 28-May 30, 2017) while Anthony Rizzo had a 26-game streak in 2016.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Anthony Rizzo returns after missing four games with back issues.

Nationals lineup:

I guess the Nats social media folks are excited that Trea Turner has returned from the IL.

Cole Hamels, LHP vs. Max Scherzer, RHP

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Hamels is having a fine season. Since his clunker of a first start at Texas, he has a 2.42 ERA and 1.007 WHIP in seven starts covering 44⅔ innings. He started twice against the Nats last year while with the Cubs, and one of those starts was a seven-inning, one-hit masterpiece opposing Max Scherzer last August 12 at Wrigley Field, the game David Bote won with his pinch-hit walkoff slam. (Note! Bote is not in the starting lineup tonight, so he could be ready to pinch-hit in the late innings. Just saying.)

Current members of the Nats are hitting .228 (44-for-193) against Hamels with five home runs. Nearly half of those AB are by Ryan Zimmerman (22-for-88, .250, three HR).

Max Scherzer also had one bad start this year in which he allowed six runs to the Padres. Since then: 2.67 ERA, 1.037 WHIP, five walks and 35 strikeouts in 27 innings over four starts.

He faced the Cubs twice last year and struck out 22 in 16 innings, allowing three earned runs and one walk. He’s been dominant over the Cubs most of his career: 2.55 ERA in eight starts, with 73 strikeouts in 53 innings.

Hamels will have to be at his best tonight.

Today’s game is on WGN. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Nationals market territories).

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 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.