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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals preview, Sunday 9/29, 2:15 CT

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This game has great meaning in a playoff race... unfortunately, not to the Cubs.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Story on Joe Maddon not returning as manager: Here

Rather than the team notes I usually post here, just a few thoughts on the final day of a disappointing season — and I’ll have plenty more on the Cubs’ 2019 season tomorrow and in the days to come.

It’s my position that most of the issues this season were caused by injuries and the failure to have anyone who could lock down the ninth inning. The Cubs have lost EIGHT games this year when they led entering the ninth. Even most bad teams don’t do that. The 2018 Cubs went 82-2 when leading entering the ninth. Do that again this year and the Cubs are likely preparing for a postseason, at least a wild-card game.

A win this afternoon would at least end the season on a high note, especially with a sweep of the Cardinals, something always pleasant to a Cubs fan. And if the Cubs win and the Brewers also win Sunday, that would force a Game 163 between the Brewers and Cardinals. I’d like that, if for no other reason than it would give us a baseball game to watch Monday.

Again, I’ll have a lot more on this season and its aftermath in the days and weeks to come. In the meantime, try to enjoy this one final game of 2019.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Nico Hoerner in center field. The plot thickens.

And only two players who were in this year’s Opening Day lineup March 28 at Texas are in today’s: Ben Zobrist and Willson Contreras.

Cardinals lineup:

Derek Holland, LHP vs. Jack Flaherty, RHP

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Holland’s numbers with the Cubs have been somewhat better than what he posted in San Francisco this year. He’s got a 3.29 ERA and 1.089 WHIP in 19 relief appearances with the Cubs, and has even produced a small amount of bWAR (0.3).

As I noted in the recap to Saturday’s game, Holland hasn’t thrown more than 24 pitches in any Cubs appearance and hasn’t thrown more than 38 in an outing since May, so I’d expect this to be a bullpen game for the Cubs.

Jack Flaherty has had a spectacular second half of 2019: 0.97 ERA, 0.736 WHIP in 14 starts covering 92⅓ innings. He’s walked just 22 and struck out 118 in those 14 outings, which includes eight strong innings against the Cubs September 19 at Wrigley Field, where he allowed just three hits and one run. He followed that outing with seven one-hit innings with 11 strikeouts vs. the Diamondbacks last Tuesday.

The Cubs did hit him pretty well in three starts he made against them in May and June this year. It’s the kind of game Cubs hitters could approach with a “we have nothing to lose” attitude. It would be nice to go out of the 2019 season knocking Flaherty out of the game.

Today’s game is on ABC7 Chicago. This will be the final Cubs game on a local over-the-air broadcast channel. The only OTA Cubs games going forward will be national/regional games on WFLD-Ch. 32. Most Cubs games in 2020 and beyond will be on the team’s Marquee Network, scheduled to premiere in February.

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 Cardinals site Viva El Birdos. If you do go there to interact with Cardinals 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.