The Cubs head to Atlanta to play the Braves in a makeup game for a May 17 rainout. Chicago is beginning an 11-game, four-city, road trip that will be a key test. If the Northsiders can skirt disaster on this grueling stretch they will be in excellent shape to make the postseason. A 6-1 homestand against the Reds and Mets put the Cubs in good position.
The Braves appeared as if they might be fading a bit in July. A 17-11 August has given Atlanta a 3.5 game lead over the second-place Phillies. Young players Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna have been playing very well of late. Acuna has hit 21 homers in just 80 games played this year. The bullpen has been solid if not spectacular, with a 4.03 ERA.
Thursday: 6:35 pm CT on MLB Network/WGN/670AM
Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.
Scouting Report from Brooks Baseball.
Mike Foltynewicz: Mike Foltynewicz has thrown 9,237 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2013 and 2018, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and Spring Training. In 2018, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (97mph) and Slider (87mph), also mixing in a Sinker (97mph), Curve (80mph) and Change (88mph).
His fourseam fastball is blazing fast. His slider is much harder than usual and results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sliders. His sinker is thrown at a speed that's borderline unfair, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers and has slight armside run. His curve has little depth, is slightly harder than usual, has primarily 12-6 movement and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves. His change is thrown extremely hard, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' changeups, has a lot of backspin and has slight armside fade.
Sean's Note: Foltynewicz has had an excellent 2018 so far. A sub 3.00 ERA and just a ton of strikeouts, a whopping 28.4% rate to be exact. His ground ball rate is pretty low and a .266 BABIP might mean he has gotten a bit lucky on balls hit in play. That being said, he has great stuff and is a legit Cy Young contender. He allowed one run in five innings while striking out ten against the Cubs in May.
Final Thoughts: The Cubs are back with the standard lineup they have featured since adding Daniel Murphy. The top four in the order have been red-hot the last week plus. Mike Montgomery returns from his shoulder injury. His ERA is a very serviceable 3.62, as a starter it's even better at 3.08. Chicago is going with a six-man rotation to rest starters during this grueling stretch of games. With the Cardinals and Brewers still hanging in the race every win is big. Let's get the east coast marathon under way.