Jesse Rogers ESPN Staff Writer 

The Cubs called up relief pitcher Spencer Patton on Thursday after placing righty Neil Ramirez on the bereavement list. Patton pitched very well in spring training and then threw 10 scoreless innings for Triple-A Iowa earning 4 saves before coming up. He's available tonight versus Washington and will wear No. 40.

Jesse Rogers ESPN Staff Writer 

Cubs OF Jason Heyward won't start his fourth consecutive game as he nurses a sore wrist. Heyward said it bothers him more in cold weather so maybe Friday he'll return. Temps are expected to be 20 degrees warmer than Thursday night. Recent call up Ryan Kalish will start in LF as Joe Maddon elects a defense first mindset with pitcher Kyle Hendricks on the mound. He pitches to contact. Backups Tommy La Stella and Tim Federowicz also are in the lineup.

Dominik ranks his most improved positional groups (3:27)
Stats & Info

Grab the popcorn, this is gonna be good

Prepare for a battle of pitchers as the Cubs take on the Nationals in a four-game series starting Thursday. Chicago ranks first in all four of these pitching categories, while Washington is right on its heels at No. 2.

Eddie Matz ESPN Senior Writer 

Cubs v. Nats. Two best records in baseball. Chicago's sweep in Pittsburgh was impressive, but so was Washington taking five of six in St. Louis and KC. Here's a fun fact: If the Nats manage to take 3 of 4 at Wrigley, then despite having managed nearly 5,000 combined games, Dusty Baker and Joe Maddon will have the same exact winning percentage (.528).

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Bears will need protection next year

Chicago selected five defensive players in the first six picks the team had at their disposal in the 2016 draft. Offensive lineman Roderick Johnson would fit the bill if the Bears decide they need offense in the next draft. Way-too-early 2017 mock draft (Insider)

Native American imagery in sports (6:55)
Ross Dettman for ESPN
2hBrett Okamoto

Johnson-Teixeira fight announced for July event

A light heavyweight matchup between title contenders Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixeira will take place on the main card of a UFC on Fox event in July.

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Chargers get O-line help in new mock

It's never too early to start looking at the next draft. Todd McShay has the Chargers selecting Notre Dame product Mike McGlinchey, cousin of Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, with their first-round pick in his first 2017 mock draft. Way-too-early 2017 mock draft (Insider)

Arrieta's stats are ludicrous, and Dallas Braden can't even handle it (2:51)
Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Whitehair is a 'plug-and-play starter'

Mel Kiper Jr. sees Cody Whitehair as an instant starter for Chicago. He has plenty of experience at tackle, but the Bears should kick the rookie inside for now. Kiper: Impact rookies (Insider)

Stephen A.: Barkley's no softy, but he's no Oakley (1:52)
Greeny says Arrieta having best stretch of starts ever (1:20)
Stats & Info

Wednesday's longest home runs

Nelson Cruz's upper-deck shot to dead center in Oakland traveled 446 feet, leading the way on a day filled with plenty of 400-foot-plus homers.

Did You Know: Cubs and White Sox on top (0:18)
MLB-best Cubs and Nationals set to face off (1:59)
Buchholz finds something in win over White Sox (2:00)
Ortiz: The guys are making this ride very fun (2:04)