Series Preview: Braves at Cubs, June 24-27, 2019

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Series Preview: Braves at Cubs, June 24-27, 2019

Chicago Cubs

If, last August or September, you told me that the Cubs would have a four-game set against the Braves this June with a rotation of Jon Lester, Adbert Alzolay, Yu Darvish, and Tyler Chatwood, I would’ve thought something either went terribly wrong or … that’s about it.

At the time, Darvish was on the shelf with an injury, Alzolay was in the minors, and Chatwood had walked himself right out of the rotation. But less than a year later, one injury to Kyle Hendricks, some odd schedule sequencing, a six-man rotation, and boom … you get Lester, Alzolay, Darvish, Chatwood. Weird. But fun. That’s my comfort zone. I’m looking forward to it.

I’m not as much looking forward to hosting the Braves, though, who’ve been predictably good this year, including a 16-5 June. They’re playing their best ball right now, right when the Cubs seem to be scuffling a little bit.

And while the Cubs got Pedro Strop back and added Tony Barnette to the bullpen, they’re still missing Carl Edwards Jr., haven’t gotten Craig Kimbrel yet, and are one-man short thanks to the six-man rotation. MOREOVER, with Chatwood going on Thursday, the Cubs might hold Mike Montgomery back during the first three games to piggyback off of Chatwood’s start, which means they’re kinda-sorta two-men short in the pen right now. Let’s hope for some long outings, I guess. Good thing they’re reasonably well-rested.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (42-35) managed to split their four-game set with the Mets and continue to mostly tread water. June has not been their month (11-11).

The Atlanta Braves (46-32) have won two in a row and seven of their past ten games. They’ve got a pretty commanding lead in the NL East (6.5 games), though much of that was built on the Phillies seven-game losing streak.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

  • Monday, June 24th at 7:05 CT on NBC Sports Chicago, 670 The Score
  • Tuesday, June 25th at 7:05 CT on NBC Sports Chicago+, 670 The Score
  • Wednesday, June 26th at at 7:05 CT on WGN, MLBN, 670 The Score
  • Thursday, June 27th at 1:20 CT on NBC Sports Chicago, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Jon Lester (L) v. Julia Teheran (R)
Game 2: Adbert Alzolay (R) v. Max Fried (L)
Game 3: Yu Darvish (R) v. Dallas Keuchel (L)
Game 4: Tyler Chatwood (R) v. TBD

Chicago Cubs

  • C – Willson Contreras
  • 1B – Anthony Rizzo
  • 2B – David Bote/Addison Russell
  • 3B – Kris Bryant
  • SS – Javy Baez
  • LF – Kyle Schwarber
  • CF – Jason Heyward/Albert Almora
  • RF – Carlos Gonzalez/Jason Heyward

Unavailable: Xavier Cedeno, Carl Edwards Jr., Kyle Hendricks, Allen Webster, Brandon Morrow, Ben Zobrist, Craig Kimbrel (SOON)

Atlanta Braves

  • C – Brian McCann
  • 1B – Freddie Freeman
  • 2B – Ozzie Albies
  • 3B – Josh Donaldson
  • SS – Dansby Swanson
  • LF – Austin Riley
  • CF -Ronald Acuna Jr.
  • RF – Nick Markakis

Unavailable: Sean Newcomb (could return), Kevin Gausman, Ender Inciarte, Darren O’Day

Keep An Eye Out For …

Cubs Pitcher: Adbert Alzolay is obviously the pitcher to watch this series. His Cubs debut went extraordinarily well, but let’s see how he does with the added pressure of a full-on, regular-season start. I know we’re all really hoping for the best, because if he succeeds, he’d basically be the first starting pitching prospect this Cubs front office has developed from start to finish (Kyle Hendricks only half-counts).

Cubs Player: Jason Heyward has had back-to-back three-hit games and is hitting .311/.392/.462 (124 wRC+) in his last 120 plate appearances. But while he’s making solid contact, walking plenty, and not striking out too much during that stretch, he could still stand to lift the ball a little more. Even still, he’s looked good lately and is currently hitting about 4% better than the league average hitter.

Braves Pitcher: Max Fried will be starting opposite Alzolay tomorrow night, and he just held the Mets to 2 earned runs over 6.0 innings with just 1 walk and 6Ks his last time out. Fried has had 2 or 3 excellent starts this season, but has otherwise been just mediocre. WITH THAT SAID, he’s been really tough against fellow lefties this year, of which there are many on the Cubs. Should be a good matchup.

Braves Player: Josh Donaldson has been the sixth best hitter in baseball over the last two weeks, slashing .373/.418/.843 (218 wRC+) in 55 plate appearances. He might not be at the offensive level he was two years ago (150 wRC+ range), but his 125 wRC+ is good and climbing.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami