The Cubs began the second half with a bang by sweeping the Baltimore Orioles for their first three-game winning streak since June 18-20. The offense punished the weak O’s pitching for a total of 27 runs over the weekend.
Perhaps more importantly, Jake Arrieta and new addition Jose Quintana pitched very well in their weekend starts. With Kyle Hendricks near a return, the Cubs’ starting rotation begins to look a lot better.
Chicago faces an Atlanta Braves team ahead of schedule in their rebuild. After being picked to finish last by most experts, the 45-45 Braves are still alive for the Wild Card. While the playoffs are unlikely this year, contention is not far off.
The Cardinals dumped Matt Adams on Atlanta in May after Freddie Freeman broke his wrist. The svelte Adams has really taken to the Peach State, hitting .291 with 15 homers. Freeman has moved to third to accommodate his defensively challenged teammate and has come back strong with the bat as as well.
While the Braves pitching is not great (team ERA 4.65) it’s better than Baltimore’s. The Cubs need to keep winning to get back into the Central Division race. They have the pieces, they just need to play like they did in Maryland.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Monday, July 17 at 6:35 CT on WGN
- Tuesday, July 18 at 6:35 CT on CSN-C
- Wednesday, July 19 at 11:10 CT on CSN-C and MLB Network (out of market only)
What To Watch For
- Jon Lester’s last start was not one to write home about. The Pirates scored 10 runs in less than an inning on July 9. Only four of the runs were earned, but Lester undoubtedly wants to get the taste of that game out of his mouth.
- Willson Contreras is hitting .378 in the month of July and had eight hits in 14 at-bats in Baltimore. He seems to enjoy hitting cleanup.
- Ender Inciarte was acquired for Shelby Miller a while back, and it’s safe to say the Braves won that deal. Inciarte is on pace for 214 hits out of the leadoff spot in 2017. He’s also a Gold-Glove caliber center fielder
- Jason Heyward comes back to Atlanta (although Sun Trust Field is new to him and the rest of the Cubs) on a roll. Since returning from the DL, Heyward is hitting .304. The quality of his contact has also been better, maybe the best he has shown in a Chicago uniform.