It's a Four-Gamer: Cubs at Braves, April 26-29, 2021

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It’s a Four-Gamer: Cubs at Braves, April 26-29, 2021

Chicago Cubs

Later tonight, the Chicago Cubs will kick off a seven-game road trip, with the first four contests coming against yet another familiar opponent in Atlanta. As a matter of fact, when these four games wrap up on Thursday, the Cubs will have played eight series against just four teams here in 2021. Not a lot of opponent-diversity, eh?

Here’s how it’s gone so far (Cubs 2021 record vs. each opponent):

⇒   Pirates: 3-3
⇒   Brewers: 3-6
⇒   Mets: 3-0
⇒   Braves: 1-2 (four more games this week)

With five games left this month, the Cubs still have a good shot at finishing April with an abov-.500 record, which feels pretty darn lucky given the many ups and downs. They can get back to .500 with a win tonight.

We’re Going Streaking

The Atlanta Braves (9-12) have gotten off to a slow start this season.

They’ve played .500 baseball over their last ten games, but remain three games under even overall and are coming off back-to-back losses to the Diamondbacks (one of which was a 7.0 game no-hitter). Although they’re scoring an almost exactly average number of runs per game this year, their pitching staff has allowed more runs than almost any other team in MLB. That could be a good opportunity for the Cubs offense. They are still loaded with talent, but they’re waiting to get over the hump.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs (10-11) sure looked like they were getting over a hump, with four straight wins including a sweep of the Mets and the first game against Milwaukee last series, but the steam evaporated on Saturday and Sunday, leaving the Cubs back under .500, in fourth place of the NL Central, with a 3-6 record against the Brewers this year.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Monday, April 26th at 6:10 CT on MARQ, ESPN, 670 The Score
•   Tuesday, April 27th at 6:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Wednesday, April 28th at 6:20 CT on MARQ, FS1, 670 The Score
•   Thursday, April 29th at 6:20 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Charlie Morton (R) vs. Zach Davies (R)
Game 2: Ian Anderson (L) vs. Trevor Williams (R)
Game 3: Huascar Ynoa (R) vs. Kyle Hendricks (R)
Game 4: TBD (R) vs. Adbert Alzolay

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Willson Contreras
•   1B – Anthony Rizzo
•   2B – David Bote
•   3B – Kris Bryant
•   SS – Javy Baez
•   LF – Ian Happ
•   CF – Jake Marisnick
•   RF – Jason Heyward

*Nico Hoerner will also likely work in (more on that below).

Unavailable: Jonathan Holder, Tyson Miller, Rowan Wick, Joc Pederson

Atlanta Braves

•   C – Travis d’Arnaud
•   1B – Freddie Freeman
•   2B – Ozzie Albies
•   3B – Austin Riley
•   SS – Dansby Swanson
•   LF – Marcell Ozuna
•   CF – Guillermo Heredia
•   RF – Ronald Acuña Jr.

Unavailable: Max Fried, Mike Soroka, Chris Martin, Sean Newcomb, Ender Inciarte

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: -2 (18th)
Braves: -12 (25th)

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.38 (14th)
Braves: 4.33 (15th)

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 4.48 (18th)
Braves: 4.90 (27th)

Keep An Eye Out For …

Nico Hoerner. Given the way Nico Hoerner has performed at the plate (4-9, three 2Bs, four BBs, and 3Ks) and in the field, along with the absense of Joc Pederson, I’m expecting to see more of David Bote at third base, Kris Bryant in left field, and Ian Happ in center to make room for Hoerner at second. I still don’t know how long he’ll actually remain with the team, but if he’s riding a heater, you have to let him play it out a little while longer. Especially when he’s absolutely crushing the ball (97.6 average exit velocity in the tiny sample (LOL)) and has more walks than strikeouts.

Ronald Acuña Jr. has *finally* cooled off. I mean, his slash line is still absolutely absurd (.371/.451/.786), but that’s where it landed after he’s gone hitless in four straight games with just two walks along the way. He’s still a monster and four games shouldn’t make you any less afraid, but hopefully he’s going to leave the video game numbers behind and settle into Ruthian territory for a while. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Zach Davies really needs to have a good start sometime soon. Unfortunately, the Braves tagged him for four runs on seven hits, three walks, and just 1 strikeout over 4.0 innings two starts ago. On the surface, I can see that he’s not fooling anybody (career-low swing rate on pitches out of the zone, high swing rate on pitches in the zone, *and* one of the highest contact rates on pitches in the zone in baseball. So I don’t really have an answer. Just … yikes.



Author: Michael Cerami

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