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montreal expos logoThe Cubs welcome the Washington Nationals to Wrigley Field for four games in three days. Thanks to the Pride Parade on Sunday, and the attendant neighborhood insanity that would result if there was also a Cubs game going on at the same time, the Cubs agreed to a day-night doubleheader on Saturday.

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs are no longer the best team in the National League over a stretch of however many games you want to grab. They’ve dropped a couple series in a row now, and have lost 8 of 14.

The Nationals are once again underperforming expectations (their roster has been stacked for two years now), but it’s a relative kind of underperformance. They’re still first in the NL East, so that’s nice, but just five games over .500 – they wouldn’t hold a Wild Card spot if they weren’t in first in the East. They’ve won 6 of 9.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Thursday, June 26 at 7:05 CT on CSN.
  • Friday, June 27 at 3:05 CT on WGN.
  • Saturday, June 28 at 12:05 CT on WGN.
  • Saturday, June 28 at 6:15 CT on FOX.

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.

Cubs

Starters: Travis Wood (4.55 ERA, 4.09 FIP; 2.15 K/BB), Jason Hammel (2.99 ERA, 3.07 FIP; 4.55 K/BB), Dallas Beeler (Debut), Jeff Samardzija (2.53 ERA, 2.90 FIP; 3.13 K/BB)

Lineup (been shuffling a lot lately):

  1. Junior Lake/Chris Coghlan/Justin Ruggiano, LF
  2. Ruggiano and Lake go here, too – or Ryan Sweeney
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Starlin Castro, SS
  5. Luis Valbuena, 3B
  6. Nate Schierholtz, RF
  7. Welington Castillo, C
  8. Darwin Barney, 2B
  9. Pitcher

Nationals

Starters: Doug Fister (2.65 ERA, 4.12 FIP; 6.00 K/BB), Tanner Roark (2.79 ERA, 3.40 FIP; 3.13 K/BB), Gio Gonzalez (4.38 ERA, 3.49 FIP; 2.37 K/BB), Jordan Zimmermann (2.95 ERA, 2.78 FIP; 4.78 K/BB)

Lineup:

  1. Denard Span, CF
  2. Anthony Rendon, 3B
  3. Jayson Werth’s Beard, RF
  4. Adam LaRoche, 1B
  5. Ryan Zimmerman, LF
  6. Ian Desmond, SS
  7. Danny Espinosa, 2B
  8. Jose Lobaton, C
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Dallas Beeler will be the dude to watch in the opening game on Saturday, as he’ll be making his big league debut.

No, no, no. I don’t want to believe it. Luis Valbuena is probably feeling the expected BABIP regression right now – in his last 25 plate appearances, he’s got just two hits. But 19 of the other 23 at bats have been balls in play that haven’t fallen in (no walks).

Offensively, you’ve really got to stretch to find anyone who’s hot right now, and isn’t named Rizzo or Castro.

The Cubs probably won’t face Bryce Harper in this one, as he’s still rehabbing his surgically-repaired thumb.

Adam LaRoche is right up there with Anthony Rizzo and Paul Goldschmidt as the best offensive first basemen in the NL this year – he’s hitting .306/.421/.483 with a crazy 16.9% walk rate.

The only other solidly positive offensive contributor the Nationals have right now is Anthony Rendon, who’s hitting .273/.335/.474.

If you think the Cubs’ bullpen is good (and it is), the Nationals’ bullpen is just stupidly, ridiculously good, with six guys featuring FIPs below 3.

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