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Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves preview, Monday 7/17, 6:35 CT

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The Braves are hot. So are the Cubs. Something’s gotta give.

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Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs have won three straight since the All-Star break. You might not think that’s anything special, but it is. In the 84 years since the All-Star Game began in 1933, Cubs teams have done that just 11 times, last in 2012.

Four straight? Only seven times, last in 2009. Time to do it again, I’d say.

The Cubs will be playing in SunTrust Park for the first time tonight. It will become the 123rd different ballpark Cubs teams have played in since the franchise began in 1876. The Braves franchise also began in 1876, though in Boston, and this will be the 10th different road park the Cubs have faced the Braves franchise in (six in Boston, one in Milwaukee and this, the third in the Atlanta area).

Final “new park” note for tonight: The Cubs are 62-59-1 all-time when playing in a ballpark for the first time. They have gone 11-14 in their last 25 ballpark debuts since 2000, and have dropped nine of their last 10.

Those latter facts are something we’d like to see change tonight, for sure. The Braves have also won their first three since the break; hopefully the Cubs can break that one.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Zobrist 2B, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Contreras C, Schwarber LF, Happ CF, Heyward RF, Baez SS, Lester P

Braves lineup:

Inciarte CF, Phillips 2B, Freeman 1B, Kemp LF, Flowers C, Markakis RF, Rodriguez 3B, Camargo SS, Teheran P

“Rodriguez” is our old buddy Sean Rodriguez:

Be nice to Rodriguez, seriously. He suffered a serious shoulder injury when he was in a car accident last January that wasn’t his fault. I wish him well.

Jon Lester vs. Julio Teheran

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Lester is coming off the worst start of his career. So let’s forget about that and have a look at what he did against the Braves last year: two starts, 14 innings, 12 hits, one earned run, 14 strikeouts.

Of course, the Braves have quite a number of new players since a year ago and they’re playing in a new ballpark that none of the Cubs has yet seen.

So I’m simply going to count on Lester to do the same thing as I just asked you to do: forget about his last start and count on today as a new beginning to the season.

Julio Teheran went into the break hot, having made two July starts in which he allowed just two earned runs in 13⅔ innings, with 13 strikeouts.

However. Those starts also came with six walks, and Teheran’s walk rate in general is up a bit this year (from 2.0 per nine innings to 3.5). Perhaps the patient Cubs, who still rank second in the N.L. in walks, can take advantage.

Teheran has also allowed 20 home runs this year, tied for fourth-most in the N.L. The Cubs just finished blasting 10 home runs in three games in Baltimore. So far this year, SunTrust park ranks a bit below average in HR/game (0.993 per game, which ranks 20th).

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

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The 2017 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2016. Here's how it works.

You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).

At the same time, a StoryStream containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap 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 the game's StoryStream as noted above.

The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.

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