Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

braves mascotThe nominal second half kicks off with the Cubs heading down to Atlanta to face the Braves, who will be without their first baseman and their closer. The Cubs will be without their primary catcher, but they will be plus one Kyle Schwarber.

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs scuffled just a little heading into the break, splitting in four with the Cardinals and then losing two of three to the White Sox. One of those Cardinals games was within a strike of a win, and one of those White Sox games was a highly-dubiously-called 1-0 loss. None of that is to complain or play the imagination game – it’s only to say that the Cubs might not actually have been cold or whatever. It’s just baseball being baseball.

The Braves won six of seven before dropping five straight heading into the break. At 42-47, you might think they’re kinda sorta hanging around, but they’ve played the easiest schedule in baseball so far, and the underlying numbers suggest the Braves should actually be about four games worse. That would have them among the worst teams in baseball, which I’m pretty sure they are.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Friday, July 17 at 6:35 CT on CSN.
  • Saturday, July 18 at 6:10 CT on ABC-7.
  • Sunday, July 19 at 4:05 CT on WGN-9.

And, if you’re not in the blackout region, you can always watch on

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.


Starters: Kyle Hendricks (3.55 ERA, 3.33 FIP; 4.65 K/BB), Jon Lester (3.59 ERA, 3.15 FIP; 3.63 K/BB), Jake Arrieta (2.66 ERA, 2.60 FIP; 4.92 K/BB)


  1. Dexter Fowler, CF
  2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  3. Kris Bryant, 3B
  4. Jorge Soler, RF
  5. Chris Coghlan, LF
  6. Starlin Castro, SS
  7. Kyle Schwarber(?), C
  8. Pitcher
  9. Addison Russell, 2B


Starters: Julio Teheran (4.56 ERA, 4.65 FIP; 2.21 K/BB), Manny Banuelos (0.75 ERA, 4.16 FIP; 2.25 K/BB), Shelby Miller (2.38 ERA, 3.09 FIP; 2.71 K/BB)

Lineup (they rotation a bunch of guys at a bunch of positions, so it changes almost daily):

  1. Jace Peterson, 2B
  2. Cameron Maybin, CF
  3. Nick Markakis, RF
  4. Juan Uribe, 3B
  5. Kelly Johnson/Jonny Gomes, LF
  6. Andrelton Simmons, SS
  7. A.J. Pierzynski, C
  8. Chris Johnson, 1B
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

For the second time in a row, the Cubs will be facing a lefty on the day Jon Lester starts, which means a platoon advantage (David Ross) freebie. Ross, back now from the 7-day concussion list, presumably would have been starting anyway.

A couple tweets that fit here:

As noted in the intro, the Braves will be without both Jason Grilli and Freddie Freeman in this series, which is all the more reason that the Cubs really need to be able to win a couple.

After Freeman, the Braves’ best offensive contribution has come from Dodgers cast-off Juan Uribe, who is hitting .290/.351/.478 since the trade. He just keeps on chugging.

Speaking of cast-offs, Cameron Maybin felt like something of a salary-even-out in their trade with the Padres, but he’s actually playing well, hitting .289/.356/.418.

The Braves actually have a decent lineup, with all of Uribe, Maybin, Nick Markakis, A.J. Pierzynski, and Kelly Johnson putting up positive offensive numbers.

Shelby Miller had a great first half, but the peripherals suggest regression is looming. Then again, his ERA has always dramatically outperformed his xFIP (for example), so maybe not.

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