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Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds preview, Sunday 8/11, 12:10 CT

The Cubs go for the series split.

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Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Sunday notes:

  • DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE: Nicholas Castellanos leads the majors with 43 doubles. Xander Bogaerts ranks second with 39. Last season, Castellanos ranked fifth in the majors with a career-high 46 doubles.
  • BETTER RELIEF THAN YOU THINK: Currently, the Cubs bullpen has four rookies: Dillon Maples, Alec Mills , Duane Underwood Jr. and Rowan Wick. Those four have combined for 27 relief appearances with a 3-0 record, 3.34 ERA (11 earned runs in 29⅔ innings), 20 walks, 39 strikeouts and a .192 opponent average (20-for-104). Further, they’ve combined to strand 12 of 13 inherited runners. All told this season, the Cubs bullpen has posted a 4.05 ERA (175 ER/388.2 IP) that ranks fourth-lowest in the N.L. behind the Giants (3.70), Cardinals (3.79) and Dodgers (3.95).
  • IN THE DIVISION: The Cubs are 26-23 thus far within the N.L. Central, a .531 winning percentage. There’s quite a difference between home and road performance, though: The Cubs are 19-5 vs. N.L. Central opponents at home, including an 11-1 combined record vs. Milwaukee (5-1) and St. Louis (6-0), but are 7-18 against N.L. Central foes on the road.
  • C’MON, GET HAPP-Y: Ian Happ, who played college ball at the University of Cincinnati, has batted .358 (19-for-53) with six homers and 12 RBI in 17 career games at Great American Ball Park. Happ had consecutive four-RBI games Wednesday vs. Oakland and Thursday in Cincinnati, making him just the fifth Cub since 2001 to record back-to-back four-RBI games. The others: Fred McGriff (2001), Sammy Sosa (2002), Ben Zobrist (2016) and Addison Russell (2018).
  • LOOKING AHEAD: The Cubs won’t face Jake Arrieta in the series in Philadelphia, as he’s the Phillies’ scheduled starter tonight against the Giants in San Francisco.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Reds lineup:

The Reds will be wearing 1969 throwback jerseys today, shown here. 1969... well, that was an, uh, interesting year for the Cubs. FWIW, the Cubs were 4-2 against the Reds in Cincinnati that year, at old Crosley Field.

Jon Lester, LHP vs. Luis Castillo, RHP

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Do yourself a favor. Don’t pay any attention to Jon Lester’s last two starts. Or, more accurately, let’s hope those starts (in which he’s posted a 14.00 ERA) aren’t reflective of what Jon will do going forward. The Cubs need him to put together a run of good outings.

Jon had a decent, not great, start June 30 in Cincinnati: 5⅔ innings, five hits, four runs (three earned), eight strikeouts.

A couple of Reds hitters (Jose Peraza, Eugenio Suarez) have hit Jon hard in the past. I won’t post the numbers here, you can look for yourself. It’s not pretty.

Perhaps not-so-fun fact about Lester’s last start, from Jayson Stark in The Athletic:

He’s the first Cubs pitcher to allow 11 runs (or more) in a game in 43 years (since Joe Coleman did it on June 19, 1976). But that’s not Lester’s only claim to fame. Believe it or not, that also makes him the only active pitcher who has given up at least 11 runs twice. The only other pitcher in this decade who has done that: Jeff Locke, for the Pirates and Marlins, in 2016-17.

Luis Castillo is having a good year, but he can be hit, on occasion. The Cubs did so July 15 at Wrigley Field, scoring three runs off him, including a home run by Kyle Schwarber, even as Castillo struck out 10 Cubs.

Since then he’s posted a reasonable 3.60 ERA in five starts, but has also served up five home runs in 25 innings. He doesn’t walk many — just four in those five starts — so Cubs hitters should look to put the ball in play.

Interestingly, the Cubs’ hottest hitter, Nicholas Castellanos, has never faced Castillo. Perhaps that will be to the hitter’s advantage.

Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

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.