The Cubs just finished their first series at Wrigley against the Pirates, winning decisively and driving the ball all over in their lone win but struggling to score in two losses. Javy Baez, who was the focus of ire from Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle, went 4-for-12 (all homers) with five runs scored and six RBI. The Cubs currently sit in in third place in the NL Central with a 6-6 record as they welcome the Braves to the Friendly Confines.
The Braves come into Chicago sporting a 7-5 record and are currently in second place in the NL East. They have scored the second-most runs in the NL, plating 68 men. Their team on base percentage sits at .338, which is third-highest in the NL They are also one of the top three teams in slugging percentage (.435), batting average (.257), doubles (29). Leading the charge are three new faces and one that everybody should be familiar with.
Freddie Freeman has proven to be an offensive force when he doesn’t have to deal with injuries. The three players you may be unfamiliar with are Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, and Ryan Flaherty. Swanson, the starting shortstop, has really come to life after struggling mightily at the plate last year. Albies, Swanson’s double play partner, spent a little bit of time last year on the club.
Flaherty did not play for the Braves last year and is the biggest offensive surprise so far.. He was drafted 41st overall by the Cubs in 2008 and never made it past AAA. He then was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Orioles in 2011 and split time in the major leagues and minors. Flaherty served as a bench player in Baltimore, but seems to have found a home in Atlanta.
While the Braves offense has had great success, their pitching staff has not been particularly great. They sport a beautiful 2.98 ERA, which is third lowest in the NL, but it appears they will be due for some correction on that statistic, as their FIP (3.96) and xFIP (3.91) are both a full run higher.
Atlanta’s best pitcher so far has been Shane Carle, a reliever they acquired from PIttsburgh after he was designated for assignment in the offseason. Julio Teheran, who starts for the Braves on Sunday, has been nothing short of an abject disappointment. He has yet to get his control and command issues locked down, walking 10 while striking out only 12 on the year.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Friday, April 13 at 1:20 CT on NBC Sports Chicago and MLB Network (out-of-market only)
- Saturday, April 14 at 1:20 CT on NBC Sports Chicago
- Sunday, April 15 at 1:20 CT on WGN
What to Watch For
- Cubs pitchers vs Braves batters. If they can limit the offensive production of Freeman, Albies, Swanson, and Flaherty the Cubs should win this series.
- Javy Baez was a force against the Pirates and has looked really good at the plate this year. His batting average may be fairly low, but he has made his hits count.
- Yu Darvish. will be making his first start as a Cub at Wrigley, so hopefully he is able to channel the nerves and adrenaline into a stellar performance.