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The Chicago Cubs keep slapping around would-be playoff entrants, and the Braves are next up for a slappin’.

By way of reminder, the Series Preview hooks you up with what you need to know about every series this year – streaks, broadcast information, pitchers, lineups, etc. That way you can look like a genius, hardcore fan in front of all your friends, with minimum effort. Oh, and there will be pictures of beautiful women, too.

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs won their fifth series in six tries, the last coming at home against the Cardinals. And it was awesome for so many reasons. One of those five series wins came against the Braves a couple weeks ago.

The Braves have won four in a row, and 13 of 17. They’re still way behind in the NL East, but are still way ahead in the NL Wild Card. Barring a memorable collapse, they’ll make the playoffs. That said, I’m sure they’re not thrilled about playing the Cubs right now.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Monday, August 22 at 7:05 CT on CSN.
  • Tuesday, August 23 at 7:05 CT on CSN, MLBN.
  • Wednesday, August 24 at 7:05 CT on CSN.
  • Thursday, August 25 at 1:20 CT on WGN.

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded.

Cubs

Starters: Ryan Dempster (10-8, 4.61), Casey Coleman (2-5, 7.43), Randy Wells (4-4, 5.84), Matt Garza (6-9, 3.62)

Lineup:

  1. Castro, SS
  2. Barney, 2B
  3. Ramirez, 3B
  4. Pena, 1B
  5. Byrd, CF
  6. Soriano, LF
  7. Soto, C
  8. Colvin, RF
  9. Pitcher

Braves

Starters: Jair Jurrjens (12-5, 2.84), Mike Minor (3-2, 4.26), Derek Lowe (8-11, 4.73), Brandon Beachy (6-2, 3.32)

Lineup:

  1. Michael Bourn, CF
  2. Martin Prado, LF
  3. Brian McCann, C
  4. Dan Uggla, 2B
  5. Larry Jones, 3B
  6. Freddie Freeman, 1B
  7. Jason Heyward, RF
  8. Alex Gonzalez, SS
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Ryan Dempster has recorded five straight quality starts, and has a 2.77 ERA in his last four outings.

Aramis Ramirez is back to scorching. He’s on a 10-game hitting streak, during which he’s hitting .487/.511/.846 with four homers and 12 RBI.

Tyler Colvin’s August slash line so far: .220/.264/.480. Thoughts? Mike Quade once again isn’t doing him any favors, but to me, it seems like that’s pretty much what you get with Colvin. He’s a younger, more athletic, left-handed Alfonso Soriano. Make a mistake and he’ll crush it; throw him a breaking ball low and away, and he’ll flail helplessly like a beached dolphin.

Brandon Beachy is emerging as yet another young stud in the Braves’ ranks. He’s 3-0 with a 2.48 ERA in his past six starts.

On the flip side, Jair Jurrjens is just 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA since the All-Star break. For you sabermetricians out there, you’ll note that the advanced statistics predicted a second half regression for Jurrjens.

Craig Kimbrel has a league-leading 39 saves, but I’m still not sure he’s the best reliever on the Braves. I said it last time (and then the announcers said the same thing): watch Jonny Venters’ fastball movement. It’s disgusting. Of course, he’s already thrown 72.2 innings this year, so it might not be disgusting forever.

That whole bullpen is great. Imagine having a bullpen where the middle relieving chump (Scott Linebrink) has a 3.63 ERA.

Series She-View

The Series She-View is one beautiful woman representing the Cubs taking on another (usually) beautiful woman representing the opponent. The Cubs’ representative will change as the team’s needs change – in other words, if the Cubs are winning, the rep will stay the same. But if the Cubs’ performance calls for a change, someone new will step in. The opponent’s representative will change from series to series, at my whim. But at least she’ll probably be wearing the opponent’s colors or have some connection to the team or something like that.

The Cubs appear to be starting another prolonged winning stretch under a particular woman’s watch. Last time, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley lasted for about a month. This time, Joanna Krupa has made it to her second series. I suppose it’s too early to crown her. But it’s not too early to drool.

As for the Braves, Reese Witherspoon made for a fine representative two weeks ago, so she can stick this time around, too.

Versus

  • NL_Cubs

    Just saw a tweet from @CubsInsider with tonights Cubs line-up…Castro is not in the starting line-up tonight, Barney to play SS. Is Castro out of the line-up due to the observations made by Bobby V. last night and Quade having a chance to see the video?

    If that’s the case, then that’s even more of an incompetent black eye of the “leadership” on this team. It took someone from outside of the organization to observe Castro’s nonchalant behavior, the manager learns about it and after reviewing the tape and criticism benches Castro? How amateurish of a move by Quade if this in fact is the reasoning.

    It’s NOT Castro that’s the problem and it won’t be resolved by benching “Cassie” for a game or two or more. It’s YOU Quade, as well as the rest of the inexperienced coaching staff, the lack of accountability and absence of a winning attitude that afflicts this team and why Castro (and others) are appearing to not have their heads in the game, all game, every play.

    Instead of benching Castro, maybe Quade should bench his coaches and take himself out of the game! Geez!

    • MichiganGoat

      Castro needs the rest irregardless, he’s played longer than he’s ever had in one season and needs to get regular days off until season end. Some of us were already noticing his frustrations at the plate and he looks tired and withdrawn. Now we have last night and he gets a day off. So is Q just punishing or resting him? If he is punishing him, is he also coaching him? So going to take some time work on his defense or he’s he just going to sit? I hope the media pushes Q on this at the post-game.

      • hardtop

        yep, that too.

      • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

        You said “irregardless”.

        But regardless, I agree. Castro needed a day off here and there along the way, might as well start now. As for Quade, I really do wonder what he’s been thinking about over the last few days. Do you think that he’s deluded himself into thinking that he has a reasonable shot at managing the team again next year? Or is it more likely that he’s going to polish up his turd of a resumé for finding employment elsewhere next season (see the last 40 game of last year)?

        Can *anyone* see him coming back to manage again next year? It would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable!

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Q has a 0.0000001% chance of returning, and I leave open the 0.0000001% chance only because of a possible ebola outbreak, decimating all other viable candidates (but, ironically, not the players, apparently).

          • Fishin Phil

            Always the optimist.

          • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

            Right. He’s not coming back. And he ain’t slotting back in at 1B/3B either. I think Zambrano has a better shot at managing the team next year. I just worry — like we all did last year — that he’s going to use the last 40 games as an audition for a gig elsewhere (like he did last year) by playing veterans, playing to win, not playing for the future. Except that after this year, I don’t think there’s ANY chance that he gets hired to manage a team. Ever again.

            Unless it’s the Cardinals. That would be OK.

            • EQ

              Lifetime AAA coach is still a AAA coach.. many say that a coach can only make a difference of about 5 games and that most is the talent on the field.. I believe that in most cases.. but shoot, 5 more wins means 5 less losses.. we’d be a little happier if we were 61-66 right now, instead of 56-71… I believe a better manager and we probably could have been a .500 team this year.

          • Ron Swanson

            So you’re saying there’s a chance….

            • hardtop

              Well, Lloyd, that’s difficult to say. I mean, we don’t really…

    • hardtop

      Regardless of who pointed it out, Castro’s behavior was embarrassing to the club. I think they had to do something, if for no other reason than to save a face. no move would have kept the hype in the media rolling.
      Also, and I’m playing team psychologist here (i.e. talking out of my ass), he’s young enough and paid little enough that a benching might actually have some impact on his play. I’m hoping, in lieu of good coaching, being embarrassed on national television accompanied with the potential label of ‘slacker’, and how that label might hurt his future (paycheck), will help pry his head from his ass.

      • MichiganGoat

        Chicago Cubs Player Development Model: Develop through Embarrassment.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Castro probably needed a night off anyway, and we can’t know for sure that Quade wouldn’t have seen the issue after the game. But, yeah, the whole thing is very upsetting.

      • Fishin Phil

        I don’t mind him sitting Castro for a game or two, IF he treats veterans the same way. Didn’t run out a pop up? Fine sit here on the bench fo a couple of days. Just have to be consistent with everybody. And don’t give me any crap about veterans having “earned” the benefit of the doubt, they should be leading by example.

    • awesome

      correct. that sure is his (quade) reason.

  • NL_Cubs

    If it’s rest that Quade is giving Castro, then it’s poor timing on the heels of last nights Bobby V. rant and the perception it creates. If it’s punishment for not having his head in the game last night, then it’s lack of leadership from the “manager” and coaches that did not just start last night in the 7th inning .

    Either way you slice it, it’s a management and cultural problem within the organization.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Quade says he’s sitting Castro to give him “a mental break.” He called Castro’s lapses “unacceptable” and “surprising.”

      • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

        Quade is also sitting Castro so that Quade can save face in the barrage of criticism he has (rightfully) received over the last 20 hours or so.

  • jstraw

    Reese Witherspoon is not a good looking woman.

    • EQ

      She’s not a 10, but I do think she’s a looker!

      • NL_Cubs

        I wouldn’t throw her out of bed for eating cookies.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Dude. You’re crazy. She’s beautiful.

      • Cardfan

        He prefers Lance Berkman and a dog

    • awesome

      agree, but Joanna can sit on the bench with me anytime.

  • hardtop

    Thoughts on Colvin:
    I generally agree with your assessment of Colvin. I *think* he is who we are seeing now, rather than who we hoped he was. BUT, the sample has been rather small and very f’d up by Quade and whoever else was making decisions about whom to bring up and when. In my mind the jury is still out (barely), and I’m giving him next season before I decide his fate… will it be banishment to Japan, or life as a very large bat boy? Maybe it’ll be everyday starter… but i doubt it.

  • awesome

    Quade benches Castro cause he (Quade wasn’t doing his job)? where was this great teacher? he says it will not be acceptable/tolerated, lol. ok, i can accept that but, what about Soriano? he accepted his lazy ass all year.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Totally random hilariousness:

    • Caleb

      Like.

  • Ron

    On Colvin, if he made as much money as Soriano it would ne horrible, but think about the pay difference before we label him Soriano. I would take Soriano for what they are paying Colvin.

  • Toosh

    Next year Soriano needs to play a lot less for the Cubs. Or play somewhere else.

  • Toosh

    Rudy. A Jim Hendry production.

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