Cubs vs. Braves Preview, Friday 9/20, 1:20 CT: It's Been A Long Time

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs and Braves met for games 4, 5 and 6 of the 2013 season. Now, they meet in games 154, 155 and 156 (games 153, 154 and 155 for Atlanta). Much has happened since then.

It's been so long since the Cubs and Braves last met, that Carlos Marmol was still blowing saves for the Cubs during that series. (Most memorably, in this game.)

Just 12 players remain on the Cubs' active roster who were on the team during the series in Atlanta April 5, 6 and 7: Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood, Jeff Samardzija, Hector Rondon, James Russell, Carlos Villanueva, Welington Castillo, Dioner Navarro, Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Luis Valbuena and Nate Schierholtz. (Darwin Barney started this year on the DL.)

In fact, the following players now on the Cubs' active roster weren't even in the organization on April 7: Jake Arrieta, Daniel Bard, Kevin Gregg, Justin Grimm and Pedro Strop. Donnie Murphy and Ryan Sweeney barely were; both had signed within the previous five days.

So it's a brand-new team facing the Braves, at least from their point of view. Will it make any difference? (Hint: probably not.)

There's at least one bit of good news: The Washington Nationals won Thursday night. Thus, the Braves cannot clinch the N.L. East title with a win Friday afternoon (they can only clinch a tie), so the Cubs won't have to watch Atlanta celebrate on the field at Wrigley, at least not today.

Cubs lineup:

Castro SS, Barney 2B, Rizzo 1B, Navarro C, Murphy 3B, Lake LF, McDonald RF, Sweeney CF, Baker P

Braves lineup:

Heyward CF, J. Upton RF, Freeman 1B, Gattis LF, McCann C, C. Johnson 3B, Uggla 2B, Simmons SS, Maholm P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Scott Baker

Scott Baker


Cubs

vs. Paul Maholm

Paul Maholm


Braves

vs. Atl

--

vs. Cubs


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Scott Baker 0-0 2 2 0 0 0 0 11.0 5 1 1 1 1 5 0.82 .55


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2013 - Paul Maholm 10-10 24 24 0 0 0 0 140.2 153 75 68 14 47 96 4.35 1.42

Scott Baker is making his final start of the season; his first two were excellent. Another such outing would probably get him an incentive-laden contract for 2014. He has never faced the Braves; current members of their roster are a small-sample-size 4-for-34 against him.

Paul Maholm has quite a few career starts against the Cubs (17 in all with a 5.04 ERA), but has not faced them since he was traded to the Braves in July 2012. In 35 starts with Atlanta since then -- about one season's worth -- he's posted a 4.08 ERA and 1.347 WHIP in 209⅓ innings with a 96 ERA+. That's just about the definition of a league-average pitcher. Starlin Castro, in particular, has enjoyed hitting Maholm: 9-for-21 (.429) with three doubles.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Braves site Talking Chop.

Here's the scoop on game threads for 2013. You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games, that will usually be 90 minutes.

You will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.

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