There are multiple storylines here as the Nationals face the Cubs in another series that seemingly has postseason implications. The Cubs are in a fight for the NL Central division with their rival Cardinals, and at the same time these games could also have a fallback position for them in the Wild Card race with the Nationals to determine home field advantage for a one-game Wild Card. The Nationals have a 70-57 record while the Cubs are just behind the Nats at 69-58. The Nationals have to win at least one game in this series to leave Chicago knowing worst case they have the same or better record than the Cubs. The Cubs have their top three pitchers going in this series. The Cubs send their ace Jon Lester to the mound this afternoon, and the lefty has a 4.23 ERA this season. Don’t let that ERA fool you as Lester gets good run support which is the reason he has a 10-8 record this season. Anthony Rendon, Adam Eaton, and Trea Turner have hit him well in the past, and Nats manager Dave Martinez could go with a similar lineup as the Nats went with last night.
The Nationals will have Anibal Sanchez on the mound. If he can pitch as well as he did against the Dodgers and Hyun-Jin Ryu a few weeks ago, the Nats will be in good shape. Speaking of shape, the Nats will arrive at the field sleep deprived due to the late night flight last night and the 2:20 start time (1:20 local time). The Nats charter flight took off at 12:31 am out of Pittsburgh for a 1 hour 13 minute flight that arrived at 1:44 am (EDT), and according to player social media the players were headed to bed just after 3AM (EDT) with a wakeup call at 8:30 am (EDT) for the starters.
“If you’ve got any recommendations, let me know, because it’s gonna be tough,” Trea Turner said about the tough travel schedule. “I think we’ve faced a lot of adversity this year. This is just another test.”
It is also “Player’s Weekend” where the players will be wearing nickname jerseys and using custom cleats and bats and other personalized gear. The Nats will be wearing black jerseys and the Cubs will be in white.
This is the fourth series for the Nats manager against his former mentor and boss Joe Maddon, and it takes Dave Martinez back to the city where he played when he was in his prime and also where he got a World Series ring as the bench coach for the Cubs under Maddon. There is a competition now between the two and the stakes are much higher than they were when the teams met earlier this season in D.C. The Cubs in Wrigley Field are 44-19 which is a remarkable .698 winning percentage.
Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs
Stadium: Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
1st Pitch: 2:20 pm EDT
TV: MASN, ABC7, MLB Network (out-of-market), MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-up subject to change (without notice):