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Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets preview, Sunday 6/23, 1:20 CT

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The Cubs need a win for a series split.

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Once upon a time there was a Cubs team.

And it played very badly for a period of time, during which it won five games and lost 15, including three losing streaks of at least four games. It was outscored 123-88 during that stretch.

Surely you are thinking that must be one of the bad Cubs teams in the first years of the Theo Epstein regime. Or a lousy team from the 1950s.

But you know I wouldn’t be telling you this if I didn’t have a point. That was the World Series champion 2016 Cubs, from June 20 through July 9. They looked like the worst team in baseball for three weeks, yet wound up winning the N.L. Central by 17½ games — and even with that -35 run differential over that three-week period, wound up with a +252 run differential, best for the Cubs since the 1930s.

The point is that every good team — yes, every single one of them — has stretches during the season where they look bad. Take the 2017 Dodgers, for example. They were 91-36 (!) on August 25 and led the N.L. West by 21 games. Then they lost 16 of 17 (and the only game they won was 1-0) and lost more than half of that lead, as it went down to nine games. They still won 104 games and got to the World Series.

Conversely, bad teams can look good for a short time. The 2012 Cubs went 14-5 from June 25 through July 19. Did it help? Nope, that team still lost 101 games.

The point I’m trying to make here is: Don’t overreact to one or two bad losses. It’s been said many times, but I’ll repeat for emphasis: Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. More than half the 2019 season still remains. Are there places where this Cubs team needs to make improvements or acquistions? Absolutely, and they almost certainly will do both.

Until then, a reminder that they are still in first place in the N.L. Central as Sunday’s action begins.

There is a chance of thunderstorms this afternoon. Thus, you should keep this handy:

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Mets lineup:

Cole Hamels, LHP vs. Jacob deGrom, RHP

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Hamels is having himself a June that could get him a Pitcher of the Month award: four starts, 0.31 ERA, 0.793 WHIP, 31 strikeouts in 29 innings. Keep it up!

He matched up with Jacob deGrom August 28, 2018 at Wrigley Field (interestingly, despite both these pitchers playing several years in the N.L. East, that’s the only time they have faced each other).

Cole threw five shutout innings, but it was a slog, as he threw 93 pitches. deGrom threw 109 in eight innings, allowing one run. (The Cubs won the game in extras after it was suspended due to heavy rain.) Current Mets have a long history against Hamels, hitting .266 (54-for-203) against him, but with 47 strikeouts.

For his part, Jacob deGrom has gone back from being unbelievable (as he was in 2018) to just very good. His 2019 season is more in line with what he was before 2018, and I suspect when he’s done playing that 2018 season will be seen as an outlier.

This isn’t to say that deGrom isn’t good, as he certainly is. Last six starts: 2.31 ERA, 0.949 WHIP, .215 opponents BA. He doesn’t walk guys — 20 in 91 innings — so the Cubs should look to put the ball in play. Current Cubs are hitting .280 (33-for-118) against him with five home runs, two of those by Kris Bryant.

Today’s game is on ABC7 Chicago.

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 Mets site Amazin’ Avenue. If you do go there to interact with Mets 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.