Cubs vs. Braves Preview, Saturday 7/12, 3:05 CT

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs look for their third straight win in another 3:05 game at Wrigley Field.

As I mentioned in yesterday's recap, there has been a sea change in the approach of the Cubs since the big trade a week ago. It's not just that two veteran pitchers were traded, but that young pitchers (OK, not so young in the case of Tsuyoshi Wada) and a young position-player prospect were added to the 25-man roster.

Including Jake Arrieta, there are five players on the 25-man roster today who weren't there Opening Day, and adding the two starters who will rejoin the team after the All-Star break will make seven. This could be considered, in some ways, the first "wave" of the "waves and waves" of young players that many here have hoped would make the team a contender.

It's not going to make much of a difference in the team's record this year; young players often have growing pains. It might not even make a difference next year. But I have already been excited by the way Arismendy Alcantara plays, and I would like to see more. Keep him around after the break, is what I'd do.

I'm still not "all-in," not yet, anyway. There are things that have to be done this offseason and beyond that, and I hope the brass will do so. As someone said in one of the comment threads recently, this isn't the beginning of the end nor the end of the beginning, but it's something like the beginning of the beginning. Or something like that.

Instead of another slog to the end of the season, we might have something to get excited about. That'd be nice.

Here are today's particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Alcantara CF, Ruggiano RF, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Castillo C, Coghlan LF, Olt 3B, Barney 2B, Jackson P

Braves lineup:

B.J. Upton CF, Simmons SS, Freeman 1B, Justin Upton LF, Heyward RF, Johnson 3B, La Stella 2B, Bethancourt C, Minor P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Edwin Jackson

Edwin Jackson


Cubs

vs. Mike Minor

Mike Minor


Braves

vs. Atl

--

vs. Cubs

Edwin Jackson. Do you have any idea how much I dislike writing these pitcher blurbs for Edwin Jackson? No matter what I write, or what numbers I put here regarding today's opponent, he's very, very likely going to throw six innings and give up four runs. How do I know this?

Jackson has made 49 starts as a Cub. The most common number of runs he's given up in a start is four (12 times). The most common number of innings he's thrown is six (13 times). He's done both in the same five times, his most common pitching line.

So book it: Six innings, four runs. The only question: will the Cubs be able to score enough to win?

Mike Minor's last start against the Cubs was April 5, 2013 at Atlanta, where he gave up one run in seven innings. What's most interesting about that boxscore is that of the 14 Cubs who appeared in that game, just four (Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Luis Valbuena and Welington Castillo) are still on the team. After a good year last year, Minor has struggled this year, with some good starts and some bad ones. He has a 6.48 ERA over his last six starts (33⅓ innings) with eight home runs allowed.

So maybe the Cubs can score enough runs to overcome six innings, four runs allowed by Edwin Jackson today.

Today's game is on WGN.

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.

For 2014, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as 2013. Here's how it works.

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.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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