clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Braves Series Preview

New, 63 comments

What happens when a very good team faces a very bad team? We are about to find out.

A common sight this year: Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell making a mound visit
A common sight this year: Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell making a mound visit
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves have the worst record in baseball at 5-17, and with April not yet over are 9½ games out of first place.

Since the All-Star break last year they are 30-65, which is a pace for a 111-loss season.

They're hoping to rebuild in a couple of years. It's going to be a rough road until then, I suspect.

I asked Kris Willis, manager of our SB Nation Braves site Talking Chop, to write a few words about his team.

The Atlanta Braves came into the 2016 season with low expectations but have struggled a bit more than many were expecting. We knew ahead of time that this team was going to be bad but I don’t think many were expecting them to bottom out as quickly as they have. 

There are several reasons for this, the offense has been non-existent. Freddie Freeman has gotten off to a very slow start although he may be beginning to come around. Freeman hit his second home run of the season on Wednesday and snapped a homerless drought for the Braves that spanned over 600 at-bats. Atlanta has four home runs on the season and that has put a ton of pressure on an already suspect pitching staff. 

The Braves’ struggles go way beyond Freeman, however. Erick Aybar has been one of the worst players in the majors both offensively and defensively through the first month. Ender Inciarte went on the disabled list the first week of the season. The team hoped Hector Olivera would make an impact with his bat but instead is on administrative leave for alleged domestic violence and might not return at all. 

As bad as things are for the Braves currently, it is important to keep a bit of perspective as well. They have one of the best minor league systems in baseball and many of their top prospects are progressing well. These are dark times for the major league club, but the future could be bright even if the 2016 season is already lost.

Fun fact

It wasn't so long ago these two teams were in opposite positions to where they are now. Just three years ago, in 2013 the Braves won 96 games and the N.L. East; the Cubs lost 96 games that year and five of six to Atlanta. Just to show you how fast things can turn around in modern baseball.

Pitching matchups

Friday: Jon Lester (2-1, 1.98 ERA, 0.841 WHIP, 3.39 FIP) vs. Aaron Blair (0-1, 5.06 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 3.85 FIP)

Saturday: John Lackey (3-1, 4.97 ERA, 1.224 WHIP, 3.22 FIP) vs. Julio Teheran (0-3, 4.60 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 4.73 FIP)

Sunday: Jason Hammel (3-0, 0.75 ERA, 1.042 WHIP, 2.51 FIP) vs. Matt Wisler (0-2, 4.26 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, 4.72 FIP)

Prediction

The Braves come into Wrigley Field riding a nine-game losing streak. Of their four wins this year, they managed one against the Dodgers and, somewhat inexplicably, swept the Marlins in Miami. The win over the Dodgers is their only one against a team with a winning record. They are bad in one-run games (1-4) and bad in blowouts (1-5). I've hesitated to predict sweeps... but honestly I'd be somewhat disappointed if the Cubs didn't sweep this series.

Up next

The Cubs have a one-series road trip starting Monday, three games against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.