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.


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