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nationals parkAnd the band played on …

For the first time in a long time, the Chicago Cubs will play today with Jeff Samardzija in the organization. He was to start today, but now he’s off to Oakland with Jason Hammel, and the Cubs will have to make due. Carlos Villanueva fills in for today (hopefully throwing four-ish effective innings), and then we’ll see what happens with the rotation. Relatively speaking, I’m fairly excited to see some new guys.

Meanwhile, the Cubs have won four in a row, and have been playing really well over the past month and a half. It’ll be harder to keep that up without Samardzija and Hammel, but if guys like Chris Coghlan, Justin Ruggiano, Nate Schierholtz, Luis Valbuena, and even Darwin Barney keep hitting, we might not see an immediate nose dive.

Don’t get me wrong: the Cubs are likely to lose a whole lotta games between now and October. But I think we can still see some enjoyable baseball with an eye to toward turning the corner very soon.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (38-46) at Washington Nationals (46-39), 3:05 CT on CSN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

Game threads now live here in the comments, using the Disqus platform. Enjoy.

The Series Preview lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Carlos Villanueva (5.91 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 4.00 xFIP; 3.08 K/BB)

versus

Gio Gonzalez (3.93 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 3.79 xFIP; 2.45 K/BB)

Washington Nationals Lineup

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Anthony Rendon, 2B

3. Jayson Werth, RF

4. Adam LaRoche, 1B

5. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

6. Bryce Harper, LF

7. Ian Desmond, SS

8. Wilson Ramos, C

9. Gio Gonzalez, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Junior Lake, CF

2. Justin Ruggiano, RF

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Starlin Castro, SS

5. Welington Castillo, C

6. Mike Olt, 3B

7. Chris Coghlan, LF

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Carlos Villanueva, P

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