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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Braves series preview

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The Cubs welcome a NL East opponent for the first time since 2019.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Oddly enough, despite the Cubs’ poor start to 2021, both they and the Braves enter this series under .500. The Cubs are 5-7, the Braves 5-8. Atlanta just broke a four-game losing streak with a win over the Marlins Thursday afternoon.

For more on the Braves, here’s Kris Willis, manager of our SB Nation Braves site Talking Chop.

It has been an up and down start to the season for the Atlanta Braves who will head into this weekend’s series in Chicago with a sub-.500 record. The best way to describe the Braves’ play so far in 2021 is inconsistent. They were swept in the Opening Series and scored a total of three runs. They won four straight to get back to the .500 mark, but then saw their pitching largely fall apart against the Marlins. Max Fried has struggled through three starts and was placed on the injured list Wednesday. The Braves haven’t announced who will take his spot in the rotation on Sunday but Bryse Wilson or Kyle Wright seem to be the most likely candidates. Huascar Ynoa will start on Saturday and has put together two great performances in back-to-back starts. Atlanta’s bullpen was a huge strength in 2020 but has been inconsistent so far.

The one constant so far for the Braves this season has been the play of Ronald Acuña Jr. For most of the offseason, it felt like Acuña was being overshadowed by the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto. Acuña is off to a blistering start at the plate and has carried Atlanta offensively. Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna have shown signs of coming around, but so far it has been Acuña doing the most damage.

Fun fact

Except for the two-game Wild Card Series vs. the Marlins last October, this is the first time the Cubs have played a game against a team outside the NL or AL Central since September 12, 2019, when they completed a four-game series split with the Padres.

They haven’t played the Braves since June 27, 2019, a 9-7 win at Wrigley Field. Of the 16 Cubs who played in that game, just seven are still with the team.

That game was Craig Kimbrel's first as a Cub.

Pitching matchups

Friday: TBD vs. Drew Smyly, LHP (0-0, 5.73 ERA, 0.909 WHIP, 4.96 FIP)

Saturday: TBD vs. Huascar Ynoa, RHP (0-0, 0.75 ERA, 0.667 WHIP, 2.22 FIP)

Sunday: TBD vs. TBD

That’s about as many TBD’s as I’ve seen the morning a series is supposed to begin. Friday would be Zach Davies’ turn, but as of the time of this series preview posting (9 a.m. CT) the Cubs have yet to announce their rotation for this series. It’s possible Kyle Hendricks, who was scratched from Tuesday’s game, could get the Friday series opener. You can see who might start for the Braves on Sunday above.

Times & TV channels

Friday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, MLB Network (outside Cubs and Braves market territories)

Saturday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Sunday: 6:08 p.m. CT, ESPN

Prediction

Let’s try reverse psychology here.

The Cubs will get swept.

Up next

The Cubs have Monday off, then host the Mets in a three-game series beginning Tuesday evening at Wrigley Field.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Braves?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    3
    (10 votes)
  • 19%
    2
    (39 votes)
  • 47%
    1
    (96 votes)
  • 28%
    0
    (59 votes)
204 votes total Vote Now