Preview: Cubs-Cardinals tonight on CSN, streaming on

Preview: Cubs-Cardinals tonight on CSN, streaming on

The Cubs open their series against the St. Louis Cardinals tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN and streaming live on and the NBC Sports app.

Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m., followed by first pitch. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis on Cubs Postgame Live.

Tonight's starting pitching matchup: Eddie Butler (1-0, 1.17 in five starts in Triple-A Iowa) vs. Mike Leake (4-1, 1.79 ERA)

Butler is making his first big-league start with the Cubs after being acquired Feb. 1 from the Colorado Rockies in exhange for minor-league pitcher James Farris.

The 26-year-old Butler is not far removed from serving as one of baseball's top pitching prospect, coming in at No. 35 on MLB's list in 2015 and No. 24 on Baseball America's rankings in 2014.

Butler has made 28 starts and eight relief appearances in the big leagues with the Rockies over the last three seasons, posting a 6-16 record with a 6.50 ERA and 1.77 WHIP. He is filling in for the injured Brett Anderson, who sported an 8.18 ERA in his six starts in the rotation before heading on the disabled list with a lower back strain.

The Cubs are also still without Addison Russell, who is nursing a sore throwing shoulder. Javy Baez will man shortstop in Russell's stead. 

Here's the rest of the Cubs lineup behind Butler against Mike Leake and the first-place Cardinals:

1. Kyle Schwarber - LF
2. Kris Bryant - RF
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Ben Zobrist - 2B
5. Jeimer Candelario - 3B
6. Willson Contreras - C
7. Javy Baez - SS
8. Eddie Butler - P
9. Albert Almora Jr. - CF

Former Cubs leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler is back in the lineup Friday night for the first time in a week while dealing with a shoulder injury. Fowler hit a pinch-hit two-run triple Wednesday as the Cardinals extended their winning streak to six games.

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Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 49th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 49th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa's 49th homer of the season came with a runner on 1st and one out, when Oriel Hershiser served up a high fastball that Sammy belted 415 feet into the last few rows in left-center field. 

Sosa would later start the game-winning rally in the bottom of the ninth, scoring the game-tying run on a Henry Rodriguez single through the right side of the infield. Jose Hernandez would step in the next at-bat and walk it off with a base hit that scored Mark Grace, as Sammy and the Cubs bested the Giants 6-5. 

Fun Fact: A 33-year-old Barry Bonds would hit home run No. 25, finishing the season with 37 homers. He would finish the next season with 34 dingers but would string five consecutive seasons with at least 45 home runs, of course hitting a record 73 home runs in 2001. 

Yu Darvish suffering another setback puts his 2018 season in jeopardy

Yu Darvish suffering another setback puts his 2018 season in jeopardy

Yu have to be kidding me (Sorry, couldn't resist). 

The Cubs were expecting Sunday's rehab start to be the beginning to an end of what has been an extremely disappointing 2018 season for their $126 million man Yu Darvish. Darvish was scheduled to start Sunday for the Cubs single-A affiliate in South Bend, IN, but after just one inning Darvish was checked on by the trainers and eventually pulled before the 2nd inning started. 

According to Steve Greenberg, Darvish asked for an MRI on Monday which likely closes the door on him returning to the Cubs in 2018.

The frustrating thing about Darvish's rehab is that in his two rehab starts, the 32-year-old pitcher has had excellent stuff, touching 95 mph in Sunday afternoon's game before being pulled. 

At this point in the season, it seems unlikely Darvish will be able to return to the Cubs rotation for the regular season. And it would be incredibly risky to roll with Darvish in the playoffs, who even when healthy hasn't shown he's deserving of a postseason roster spot. The Cubs do have options at starter in the minors like Duane Underwood or James Norwood, and despite his shortcomings, Tyler Chatwood is an option out of necessity now.  

Drew Smyly, who looked like a possibility as a late-season addition, is still not quite ready to come back and be an effective rotation piece at the moment. And with Mike Montgomery heading to the disabled list earlier this week, the Cubs were hopeful Darvish would be healthy by the time rosters expand in September. 

Luckily, Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, and Kyle Hendricks have all looked stellar recently and hopefully can continue their success on the mound as the Cubs continue to fight past injuries to maintain their grasp on the NL Central. 

But Theo Epstein said himself last week that if Darvish didn't perform well during his rehab stint, that was essentially his 2018 season. Don't expect to see Darvish returning to the mound until 2019, Cubs fans.