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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Braves series preview

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It’s the Cubs’ first visit to the new Atlanta ballpark.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves are in the middle of a rebuild, but they have played near .500 ball for much of this season, better than expected.

I asked Kris Willis, manager of our SB Nation Braves site Talking Chop, to update us on his team.

The Braves will look quite different this time around when the Cubs arrive Monday at SunTrust Park. The game will be taking place in a new stadium, Freddie Freeman will likely be at third base and the team and the team is flirting with a .500 record.

Atlanta's rebuild is progressing. They have continued to stockpile talent in the minor leagues and have begun exploring using it to bolster their major league roster. The Braves were one of the teams reportedly bidding against the Cubs to acquire Jose Quintana. Atlanta elected to not cash out just yet and that was probably the right decision because they are not quite to that point yet in the rebuilding process.

A lot has gone right for the Braves this season. They were able to keep their heads above water despite losing Freeman for just over a month. Freeman has since returned and picked back up right where he left off. Ender Inciarte was selected to the All-Star Game and continues to play Gold Glove caliber defense in center.

The biggest question mark has been the pitching staff. The Bartolo Colon experiment failed miserably. R.A. Dickey got off to a suspect start as well but has put together a solid stretch of late. Mike Foltynewicz has taken another step forward this season but Julio Teheran has been up and down and has really struggled at home. If Atlanta is to successfully navigate their July schedule then they are going to have to find some consistency from their starting rotation.

From a day-to-day perspective the Braves rebuild has been fun to watch. It may be cliche to say but this group plays hard and believes they can win. The minor league system is stocked and it appears that they are getting close to turning the corner.

Fun fact

In the 20 seasons the Braves played in Turner Field, the Cubs went 30-43 there. Here’s hoping the new ballpark will produce a better Cubs record against the Braves.

Pitching matchups

Monday: Jon Lester, LHP (5-6, 4.25 ERA, 1.343 WHIP, 3.97 FIP) vs. Julio Teheran (7-6, 4.79 ERA, 1.384 WHIP, 5.48 FIP)

Tuesday: John Lackey, RHP (5-9, 5.20 ERA, 1.328 WHIP, 5.66 FIP) vs. Sean Newcomb (1-4, 4.26 ERA, 1.453 WHIP, 3.49 FIP)

Wednesday: Mike Montgomery, LHP (1-6, 4.01 ERA, 1.392 WHIP, 4.11 FIP) vs. R.A. Dickey (6-5, 4.08 ERA, 1.360 WHIP, 4.97 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Monday: 6:35 p.m. CT, WGN

Tuesday: 6:35 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago

Wednesday: 11:10 a.m. CT, CSN Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and Atlanta markets)

Prediction

The Braves just finished a surprising three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks and moved to the .500 mark at 45-45, just half a game worse than the Cubs’ current mark. They outscored the D-backs 19-8 and will be a tough opponent.

Nevertheless, I think the Cubs have begun the second half on just as good a roll, if not better. The Cubs will take two of three and come back home with an excellent 5-1 road trip.

Up next

The Cubs have Thursday off and then return to Wrigley Field for the first post-All-Star series, a three-game set against the Cardinals beginning Friday afternoon.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Braves?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    3
    (129 votes)
  • 54%
    2
    (239 votes)
  • 11%
    1
    (52 votes)
  • 3%
    0
    (16 votes)
436 votes total Vote Now