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braves logoThe Cubs head on down to Atlanta to take on the Braves, which has always been a fun series for me. Couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it was the Maddux stuff, or the fact that the Braves have been so good for so long? I think maybe I kind of like and respect the Braves. I’d never really thought about it until now.

The Series Preview gives you the rundown on what you need to know for the upcoming series. In that way, it’s kind of a preview. About a series. See how that works?

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs narrowly avoid the sweep this week, taking the final game of their four-game crosstown series. Still, the losses are piling up, and the Cubs find themselves nine games under .500 at 12-21.

The Braves keep on trucking, despite injuries and offensive struggles. They’re 18-15, a game out in the NL East, which is the trucking part. Unfortunately for them, they’ve lost eight of nine, and are presently not so much trucking as scuffling.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Friday, May 9 at 6:35 CT on CSN.
  • Saturday, May 10 at 6:10 CT on WGN.
  • Sunday, May 11 at 12:35 CT on WGN, MLBN.

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.

Cubs

Starters: Jason Hammel (2.43 ERA, 3.77 FIP; 3.56 K/BB), Jeff Samardzija (1.62 ERA, 3.05 FIP; 2.53 K/BB), Edwin Jackson (4.57 ERA, 3.16 FIP; 2.06 K/BB)

Lineup (with obvious rotations in place):

  1. Emilio Bonifacio, CF
  2. Luis Valbuena, 2B
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Starlin Castro, SS
  5. Nate Schierholtz, RF
  6. Welington Castillo, C
  7. Mike Olt, 3B
  8. Ryan Kalish, LF (Junior Lake will play, also)
  9. Pitcher

Braves

Starters: Julio Teheran (1.80 ERA, 3.93 FIP; 3.67 K/BB), Ervin Santana (2.41 ERA, 2.43 FIP; 4.50 K/BB), Alex Wood (3.00 ERA, 3.24 FIP; 4.89 K/BB)

Lineups:

  1. Jason Heyward, RF
  2. Justin Upton, LF
  3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
  4. Evan Gattis, C
  5. Chris Johnson, 3B
  6. B.J. Upton, CF
  7. Andrelton Simmons, SS
  8. Dan Uggla, 2B
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

I think you’ll see Mike Olt get at least a couple starts in this series. He’s heating up (1.300 OPS in his last four games), and it’s about time to start deferring to the younger, developmental players.

Emilio Bonifacio has suddenly gone very cold, which we all knew was coming at some point. He’s got just two hits in his last five games, and, stretching back further, he’s at .205/.244/.256 over his last 10 games. These things ebb and flow, but his OPS+ is now just about league average, at 101.

Junior Lake is hitting .500/.600/.500 over his last one game.

Nate Schierholtz’s season numbers are still woefully grim, but at least he raised his OPS 53 points last night.

Justin Upton is back to his early season world-eater ways, hitting .303/.378/.597, with a silly .420 wOBA. (He frequently bats second for the Braves, by the way. Well done.)

Not so hot is Jason Heyward, who is hitting just .209/.295/.310, and striking out quite a bit more than he has in the past. Maybe the Braves want to sell low?

Dan Uggla has really seen his career fall off a cliff. He’s currently hitting .184/.241/.272 and is losing starts.

B.J. Upton has also been brutally bad (.212/.293/.331), and you are reminded that the Cubs did not pursue him in free agency, despite many fans’ cries of protest.

Andrelton Simmons is amazing for many reasons, including this: he doesn’t walk (4.3%) or strike out (6.0%). He just puts the ball in play. And if his .265 BABIP comes up, he could be a ridiculously valuable player (instead of a merely extremely valuable player).

Although he started the year scorching hot, Alex Wood has thrown just 10 innings in his last two starts combined, with an 8.10 ERA. It’s a similar story for Ervin Santana, who’s got a 4.97 ERA over his last two starts.

  • Fishin Phil

    Yes, but what are the pitcher’s W-L records???

    **ducks**

    • CubChymyst

      [img]http://www.quickmeme.com/img/b0/b0c1c81f628d4ea34211646d8b62c3c5c8f0f1e861a873113af2d63f16d061dd.jpg#who%20throws%20a%20shoe%20414×233[/img]

      • CubsFaninMS

        *Like

    • mjhurdle

      100% agree Phil.

      And also, we need the RBI totals in the lineup somewhere. How the heck am I supposed to tell who the good batters are in the opposing team’s lineup if I don’t know how many RBI they have?

      • Dave

        *RBIs

        Fixed

        • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

          Oh the RBI vs RBIs question. Since it’s an acronym and “R” can be “run” or “runs” adding the “s” is redundant.

  • CubChymyst

    I wanted the Cubs to pursue B.J. Upton, and now I’m happy they didn’t.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      BJ’s K issue was getting huge in his last year or two in TB.

      • Edwin

        Actually, since 2009 it was always in the 24%-27% range, and it was actually lower in 2011 and 2012 than it was in 2010. One of his bigger problems is that his ISO has gone from the .180-.200 range while with Tampa to .105 and .119 so far with Atlanta.

  • itzscott

    Braves have lost 8 of 9 and are scuffling?

    The Cubs will be like chicken soup to them and make them all better.

  • Edwin

    For some reason, I always have a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to the Braves. I hate their stupid cheer, the Marcus Giles Mark Prior incident, losing to the Braves in 1998, and then just random stuff like that time they plunked Soriano for hitting three HR off them the night before.

    • Pepitones wig

      Glavin getting strike calls a foot outside..agreed, lots of reasons to not like that team. Ted and Hanoi Jane too

    • Canadian Cubs Fan

      The Braves we’re way better than the Cubs in ’98, but we got them back in 2003!!

  • willis

    I’ll be there. As much as dislike the Braves, I do like Turner Field. I’ll be in section 105 down low, any other BNers going tonight or tomorrow?

    There is a decent chance it storms tonight though…boo but it’s a 60% chance according to the weather dude.

  • Seth

    I really liked the lineup from last nights game. It’s probably been my favorite all year. With Kalish’s speed up top and Valbuena with his high OBP. With Olt and Lake rounding up the end of the lineup, I actually looked forward to the bottom of the order last night. Too bad we can’t play with the DH every game. The only thing I would change would be Coghlan for Emilio.

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    My dad has been a die hard Braves fan since the 70′s so I’ve always had a soft spot for them.

    My dad’s always bitching about Heyward. He’s really pull conscious and suseptable to the low inside slider.

    Uggla just needs to be released. Freeman and Simmons are great. And then there’s Kimbrel. Anyone who says the closer is overrated needs to look at what he does to a ball game. Meaning he turns it into an 8 inning game!

    • https://twitter.com/dwoytek dw8

      closers are overrated, Kimbrel is not.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Indeed, one wonders how many games a year teams like the Braves lose by leaving those rare Kimbrells in the pen in the 7th or 8th when the best hitter(s) on the opposing team beat middle relievers.

        If they changed saves to WPA>X (and I don’t know what X should be off the top of my head), then managers could manage for the Save and the Win at the same time!

  • JB88

    “Junior Lake is hitting .500/.600/.500 over his last one game.”

    Awesome. I laughed out loud at this.

  • Featherstone

    The BJ Upton contract just looks atrocious now. They have another $45 million over the next 3 years after this one. Yikes!

  • Blake Z

    “Junior Lake is hitting .500/.600/.500 over his last one game.”

    Brett, I enjoy your subtle humor. Please don’t ever change.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Winky face.

      • Travis

        ^He’s done it again!

  • Patrick W.

    Hey… subtle reminder… can we start getting the games started or the innings pitched of the projected starters? You told me to remind you.

  • fromthemitten

    Andrelton Simmons COULD steal 30-40 bases a season but in interviews said he doesn’t feel he needs to in such a potent lineup. Andrelton Simmons is also my BN fantasy league SS :’(

  • Diehardthefirst

    Cubs will sweeeepppeeeeee under the Teeeepppeeee

  • https://twitter.com/dwoytek dw8

    Glad we’re past the early Olt playing time hand wringing, and we get to see him more.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Kudos to Mgr Rick if Olt blossoms — lots of TLC

  • CubsFaninMS

    So I’ve been thinking further about this Olt nickname thing.

    “Olt the Thunderbolt” or simply “Thunderb”
    “Much Too Good To Be… This Damn Olt” (play from an old Garth Brooks song)

    That’s all I have. It is a surprisingly difficult name to spin.

    • Edwin

      Why not stick with ” / Mike Olt! ” ?

      • Edwin

        There was supposed to be a \ and a 0 in there as well.

        \o/ Mike Olt?

    • NorthSideIrish

      I’m Too Olt For This Shit. Or Funky Olt Medina…there’s lots of ways to play this.

  • Dustin S

    I’m pretty ecstatic about how Rizzo and Castro have looked so far. It’s just so important in the rebuilding process to see them looking like .280/20hr (or better) hitters again that this team can build around. I can accept a hideous record in 2014 if we see real progress at the player level. Castro and Rizzo are the big keys, and if Lake, Olt, or others can improve to the point of being true everyday major league hitters that’s icing on the cake for this season.

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