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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Braves series preview

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Perhaps Cubs pitching will do better in Atlanta than it did in Texas.

Braves Charlie Culberson and Matt Joyce celebrate a home run Sunday night
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Braves, unexpectedly, won the N.L. East title last year, led by some top young players such as Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. Can they repeat this?

To find out more about that question, I asked Kris Willis, manager of our SB Nation Braves site Talking Chop, to tell us a little about his team.

The Atlanta Braves are coming off of a season in which they came out of nowhere to claim the NL East crown. While Atlanta might have ultimately arrived a year early, the Braves have a wealth of young prospects that are either at the major league level or knocking on the door at Triple-A. Like the Cubs, the Braves did endure a quiet offseason although it wasn’t as if they did nothing. They snatched up third baseman Josh Donaldson on a one-year deal in late November which was a significant move, but spent the rest of the offseason bringing back Brian McCann and re-signing Nick Markakis. They did not address their starting rotation or their bullpen which was their biggest weakness in 2018 in a lot of people’s minds.

2019 hasn’t gotten off to the greatest of starts and the bullpen performance early hasn’t done anything to alleviate fears about the offseason. Still, this should be an exciting team to watch this season. Freddie Freeman is back and Ronald Acuña Jr. is looking to build off of his Rookie of the Year campaign. Adding Donaldson helps extend the lineup as well. This Braves team may when all is said and done be better than last year’s club, the question is will they be good enough to make the playoffs in what will be one of the most improved divisions in baseball.

FWIW, the first game of this series (Monday night) is the Braves’ home opener, so expect a big crowd and lots of hoopla.

Fun fact

It’s always fun to recall the April 14, 2018 Cubs/Braves game at Wrigley Field, played in just about the worst conditions imaginable, with the Cubs coming back from eight runs down. Here’s my recap of that game. And this sums that game up pretty well, too:

Pitching matchups (2018 numbers for Monday game, otherwise 2019)

Monday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (14-11, 3.44 ERA, 1.146 WHIP, 3.78 FIP) vs. Sean Newcomb, LHP (12-9, 3.90 ERA, 1.329 WHIP, 4.14 FIP)

Wednesday: Jon Lester, LHP (1-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 4.64 FIP) vs. Julio Teheran, RHP (0-1, 5.40 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 3.57 FIP)

Thursday: Yu Darvish, RHP (0-0, 10.13 ERA, 3.375 WHIP, 12.79 FIP) vs. Max Fried, LHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.000 WHIP, 2.57 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Monday: 6:10 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago Plus, ESPN (outside the Atlanta market, should be available in the Cubs market territory)

Wednesday: 6:20 p.m. CT, WGN, ESPN (outside Chicago and Atlanta markets)

Thursday: 6:20 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and Atlanta markets)

Prediction

Darvish’s numbers look awful, but let’s hope that was a one-off. I still think the Cubs should take two of three in this series.

Up next

The Cubs head to Milwaukee for a three-game series against their divisional rivals beginning Friday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Braves?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    3
    (37 votes)
  • 43%
    2
    (94 votes)
  • 28%
    1
    (62 votes)
  • 11%
    0
    (24 votes)
217 votes total Vote Now