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Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves preview, Thursday 9/28, 6:20 CT

The Cubs need this game. Bad.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA — Thursday notes...

  • BLOWING LEADS: The Cubs surrendered three leads Wednesday night before losing. They let four leads slip away on Sept. 16, in their 7-6, 13-inning loss at Arizona. They have squandered two leads in 10 other games. In all, they have taken a lead and lost it 72 times in 57 distinct games. In 20 of those 72 times, including two last night, they gave away the lead in the bottom of the same inning in which they gained it. In nine more, they gave it away in the top of the next inning at home. The Cubs ultimately lost 32 of the 57 games. (Courtesy BCB’s JohnW53)
  • A MILESTONE REACHED: The Cubs’ five runs Wednesday gave them 803 for the year, the first time they have scored 800+ since 2018 (822). If they can score 20 or more runs over the season’s final four games, that would be the most for any Cubs team since 2008 (855). They have also scored at least five runs in eight of their last 10 games.
  • STILL A GOOD RUN: Despite the two losses in Atlanta, since June 8 the Cubs are 56-39, the fourth-best record in the National League. The three ahead of them are all in the postseason: Braves (63-32), Dodgers (61-33) and Phillies (58-37).
  • HAPP-ENINGS: Ian Happ, last 11 games since September 13: .333/.412/.556 (15-for-45) with four doubles, two home runs, six walks, seven RBI and six runs scored.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Braves lineup:

Marcus Stroman, RHP vs. AJ Smith-Shawver, RHP

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Major League Baseball

Marcus Stroman has made three appearances since he returned from the injured list, two in relief and one start. The relief appearances were decent, the start... eh, not quite so much.

Stroman hasn’t faced the Braves since April 26, 2022, when he held many of the current Braves hitters to six hits and three runs (two earned) in six innings. Another start like that tonight would be most welcome.

AJ Smith-Shawver was the Braves’ seventh-round pick in 2021 out of high school in Texas. He’s 20 years old — a year younger than Pete Crow-Armstrong. He has made 15 starts at three different levels of the Braves system this year with a 2.76 ERA and 1.129 WHIP. He’s also made five MLB appearances (four starts) for the Braves with a 4.57 ERA and 1.246 WHIP. He’s got a fairly high walk rate, both in the minors and majors, so perhaps the Cubs can take advantage.

Interestingly, Smith-Shawver HAS faced one current Cub — Pete Crow-Armstrong. PCA homered off him for Myrtle Beach May 25, 2022. Just thought that was interesting.

Lastly, maybe it’s just me, but if Smith-Shawver didn’t have that bit of facial hair, he’d look like he was about 15.


Today’s game is on Marquee Sports Network. You can find out if Marquee is available via a provider in your area here. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Braves market territories).

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Braves site Battery Power. If you do go there to interact with Braves fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

The 2023 Game Thread procedure will be like last year’s, similar to what we’ve used for Spring Training — also see the note at the top of this preview.

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, titled “Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of week/date) game threads.” It will contain every post related to that particular game, including the First Pitch Thread and the overflow thread, as well as the recap when it’s published. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post.

You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread and the overflow thread in the box marked “Chicago Cubs Game Threads” at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). The StoryStream for each game can also be found in that section.

The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at 90 minutes after the scheduled game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.