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Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox preview, Saturday 9/26, 6:10 CT

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The Cubs can clinch the NL Central title with a victory tonight.

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Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Saturday notes:

  • THE BIG LEFTHANDER: Jon Lester makes his final start of the 2020 regular season and enters this game just one inning short of 1,000 for his Cubs career. When he completes the first inning tonight, Lester will become just the eighth lefthander (and 47th overall) to reach 1,000 innings for the Cubs. The last Cubs lefty to reach 1,000 innings for the franchise was Ken Holtzman, who tossed 1,447 innings from 1965-71 and 1978-79. More on Jon below.
  • BLANKETY-BLANK: The Cubs’ eight shutouts lead the majors (the Indians and Brewers are tied for second with seven each) and account for nearly 14 percent of Cubs games played this season. The team threw 10 shutouts last year in a 162-game season.
  • INTERLEAGUE UPDATE: The Cubs are 11-7 vs. AL teams this season. Since the start of 2016, the Cubs are 63-35 (.643) in interleague play, the best mark in the NL and second in the majors behind the Red Sox (64-34/.653).
  • PLOINK UPDATE: Cubs batters have been hit 15 times in their last 11 games and have been hit by 50 pitches this season, the most in the majors (Mets are second, 45). Willson Contreras leads the majors with 14 HBP.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

White Sox lineup:

Jon Lester, LHP vs. Dane Dunning, RHP

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Lester has been very good over his last three starts: 17 innings, 1.06 ERA, 0.882 WHIP, .190 opponents BA.

Jon Lester was really bad against the White Sox August 21 at Wrigley Field, by far his worst start of the year: eight runs in 3⅔ innings, including four home runs. Jon’s season ERA in his other 10 starts is 3.35 in 53⅔ innings.

A lot of that is because the Sox just crush LHP. They are hitting .282/.357/.527 (116-for-412) against lefties this year with 26 home runs (compared to .254/.313/.432 vs. RHP). I suppose we can hope for Jon to gut out five innings and then let some bullpen righthanders take over.

In addition to the notes at the top of this preview, Lester needs six strikeouts to reach 2,400 for his career. Two K’s for Jon will tie Sandy Koufax (2,396) for 50th place on the all-time MLB list.

Dane Dunning is one of three pitchers currently in the Sox rotation (also Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez) who they acquired in trading Adam Eaton to the Nationals. That’s a really good trade from the Sox viewpoint. Dunning was the Nats’ first-round pick in 2016 out of the University of Florida.

Dunning is making his seventh MLB start tonight. Of the previous six, three were quite good, the other three not so much. Per Fangraphs Dunning relies primarily on his fastball (average 91.8 miles per hour) and slider. He has never faced the Cubs or anyone on the Cubs active roster. Usually that’s not good for Cubs hitters. Hopefully tonight is different.

Incidentally, Dunning’s mother is Korean and he has expressed interest in pitching for Korea in the next World Baseball Classic, which will happen in 2023.

Today’s game is on Marquee Sports Network. Here’s a list of providers currently carrying Marquee. It’s also on NBC Sports Chicago with the Sox announcers.

Radio broadcasts: 670 The Score, Sirius XM radio (click for channel), Cubs radio affiliates

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

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The 2020 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, titled “Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of week/date) game threads.” It will contain every thread related to that particular game, including the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads, as well as the recap when it’s published. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post.

You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked “Chicago Cubs Game Threads” at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). The StoryStream for each game can also be found in that section.

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.