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Cubs vs. Braves Preview, Friday 7/11, 3:05 CT

This homestand is just three games long... then the Cubs hit the All-Star break and go on the road again. Thanks, MLB schedulers.

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David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to MLB schedule-makers, the Cubs were in the following cities on the following dates: June 28 in Chicago, June 30 in Boston, July 4 in Washington, July 7 in Cincinnati, scattered around the country for the All-Star break (except for Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, who will be in Minneapolis), July 18 in Phoenix and July 22 back in Chicago.

There's got to be a better way to do schedules. One thing that would help is getting rid of Bud Selig's "rivalry" games, which force schedulers to squeeze back-to-back two-game series all across the schedule for all teams.

Maybe when Bud is gone. I won't hold my breath waiting, though.

After this weekend, the Cubs will be completely finished facing N.L. East teams this year except for a four-game series with the Mets in New York in mid-August. This series completes the season series with the four other teams (Braves, Marlins, Phillies and Nationals). Meanwhile, the Cubs still have three interleague series to go (two at home, one on the road, and they're 5-6 so far) and they haven't played the Rockies yet. Then they'll play Colorado seven times in 10 games in late July/early August.

Like I said. There has to be a better way.

If you have not yet read Russ La Croix' excellent series preview, go check it out now.

Finally, a reminder that SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting daily $18,000 Fantasy Baseball leagues. It's $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Click here for details, and now on to the particulars for today's game.

Cubs lineup:

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

Cubs hitters are batting .240/.289/.336 in the No. 1 spot this year. Putting Arismendy Alcantara in that spot has to be an improvement.

Braves lineup:

Schafer CF, Simmons SS, Freeman 1B, Upton LF, Heyward RF, Johnson 3B, La Stella 2B, Bethancourt C, Wood P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta


vs. Alex Wood

Alex Wood


vs. Atl


vs. Cubs

Jake Arrieta has been awesome lately. This, you already know. How awesome? In his last six starts he's thrown 40⅔ innings, allowed 18 hits and six walks (0.59 WHIP) and struck out 51, while giving up only four earned runs (0.89 ERA). His one and only career start vs. the Braves was three years ago, July 2, 2011, and hardly any of those players are still on the Braves. The Braves player he's faced most, from their time in the A.L. East, is B.J. Upton (4-for-17, one home run). Arrieta is still probably 2-3 starts away from qualifying for the league ERA lead -- he's currently at 1.78 with 70⅔ total innings and after today's game he'd need 92 (one inning per team game). Getting closer, though.

Alex Wood made one relief appearance vs. the Cubs last year and one this year and so his experience against them is minimal. He got off to a mediocre start to this season in the rotation, was moved to the pen, and since he returned to the rotation he's made three starts and thrown 20 innings with a 2.25 ERA, decent but not great.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago. In some parts of the country this game can be seen on MLB Network.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday 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.