Happy birthday to Pedro Strop, who turns 34 today. Perhaps he’ll get a save opportunity as a gift.
Notes for Thursday:
- Overall, this series features the top two teams in the N.L. in on-base percentage, as the Dodgers lead the way with a .346 mark and the Cubs are a close second at .342. The clubs are also 1-2 in the N.L. in team OPS, as the Dodgers enter with a .807 mark and the Cubs are next at .796. Lastly, the Cubs lead the N.L. by averaging one walk per 9.45 plate appearances (the Dodgers are second at 9.83).
- Since April 27, Anthony Rizzo has posted a .423 on-base percentage in 39 games, the second-best mark in the National League in that span behind only Christian Yelich (.447). Rizzo also owns a .638 slugging and 1.060 OPS in that span, the sixth-best and fourth-best marks in the N.L.
- The Cubs enjoy a +67 run differential this season, second-best in the N.L. this season behind the Dodgers at +105. The Cubs are averaging 5.27 runs per game this season, second in the N.L. The Rockies lead with 5.33 runs per game.
- The Cubs have hit 47 home runs in their last 26 games starting May 17, tied with the Brewers for the most home runs by any club in the National League in that span and trailing only the Twins (50 homers) for most in the majors.
Here are today’s particulars.
Jon Lester, LHP vs. Clayton Kershaw, LHP
Jon Lester’s June has been interesting, to say the least. Seven strong innings against the Angels. Then one bad inning against the Cardinals, followed by five more strong innings. So 12 of his last 13 innings have been pretty much lights-out.
Jon threw five good innings against the Dodgers April 25 at Wrigley Field before being removed for a pinch-hitter after only 79 pitches. Hopefully that translates into another good performance tonight. In 10 career starts vs. L.A. he has a 3.22 ERA and 1.074 WHIP in 58⅔ innings.
Clayton Kershaw is having a pretty good year, but he appears to no longer be the Clayton Kershaw who dominated the league from 2011-17. Still, he turns in a good outing almost every time and he simply doesn’t walk batters — just 10 in 66 innings so far this year, a walk rate of 1.4 per nine innings.
He last faced the Cubs June 28, 2018 at Dodger Stadium, and held the Cubs to one run in five innings, removed after just 68 pitches, as it was just his second start coming off an injury. The Cubs wound up pounding Walker Buehler (also coming off an injury that day, throwing in relief) and winning the game.
Current Cubs are hitting .246 (33-for-134) against Kershaw with nine home runs, three of them by new Cub Carlos Gonzalez.
Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago Plus. 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.
SB Nation game preview
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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.