Cubs vs Braves: Series Preview (6/24-6/27)

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The Cubs have been in a rough patch the last two weeks. A 2-5 road swing west has been followed by a 3-3 stretch against the White Sox and Mets. The Brewers have scuffled just as much, allowing the North Siders to maintain a 0.5 game lead in the NL Central. Now they welcome a much hotter first-place team to Wrigley for four-games, the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves sit at 46-32, giving them a 6.5 game lead over the Phillies in the NL East. If not for Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger, Freddie Freeman would be a legit MVP candidate with 21 homers and an OPS over 1.000. A .266 team batting average indicates just how good the whole Atlanta offense is. Ronald Acuña Jr. is having another good year and Dansby Swanson is starting to reach his potential.

Despite not having a proven closer, the Braves bullpen has been very good. The starting rotation is a different story, especially ace Mike Foltynewicz, who was just sent to the minors after getting lit up this season. It spurred the signing of Dallas Keuchel who was rushed to the majors after one minor league outing.

The Cubs Adbert Alzolay will get a start against the Braves after an impressive relief debut against the Mets. Craig Kimbrel is getting close to a MLB return, possibly by Thursday. It's no secret Chicago has played poorly of late. A matchup with a very good Atlanta team who swept the Cubs in April, is not a great spot to start a hot streak. That being said, baseball can be weird, so maybe they can get going.

Watch/Listen

Monday: 7:05 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Tuesday: 7:05 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago+/670AM

Wednesday: 7:05 PM CT on MLB Network/WGN/670AM

Thursday: 1:20 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Lineups

Braves

2. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
3. Freddie Freeman (L) 1B
4. Josh Donaldson (R) 3B
5. Nick Markakis (L) RF
6. Austin Riley (R) LF
7. Ozzie Albies (S) 2B
8. Tyler Flowers (R) C
9. Julio Teheran (R) P
Cubs
1. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Javier Baez (R) SS
6. Jason Heyward (L) CF
7. David Bote (R) 2B
8. Carlos Gonzalez (L) RF
9. Jon Lester (L) P
Bullpen Usage
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Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Julio Teheran: Julio Teheran has thrown 20,374 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2010 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason and The World Baseball Classic. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (90mph) and Slider (82mph), also mixing in a Sinker using a Two-seam Fastball grip (90mph), Change (84mph) and Curve (75mph).

His fourseam fastball has some natural sinking action, has slightly below average velo and has slightly less natural movement than typical. His slider is a prototypical pitch with few remarkable qualities. His sinker results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers, has slightly below average velo and has some natural sinking action. His change has slight armside fade. His curve results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves, has little depth, has slight glove-side movement and has slightly below average velo.

Sean's Note: Teheran has been good this season with an ERA of 3.40 in 87.1 innings. He has an average strikeout rate and walks a pretty high 11.6% of hitters. Despite being a fly ball pitcher, his homer rate is way down from recent seasons with just 9 allowed. He held the Cubs to one run in five innings in early April.

Max FriedMax Fried has thrown 2,531 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2017 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason, Spring Training and Fall/Winter Ball. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (94mph) and Curve (75mph), also mixing in a Slider (84mph). He also rarely throws a Change (85mph).

His fourseam fastball is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, is straight as an arrow, has some natural sinking action and has well above average velo. His curve has an exceptional bite, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' curves and has slight glove-side movement. His slider sweeps across the zone, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sliders and has some two-plane movement. His change is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' changeups, is much firmer than usual, has slight cut action and has some natural sink to it.

Sean's Note: After a great start to the season Fried has come back to Earth in his first full year in the majors. His control has improved but his strikeouts are also way down. A high batting average on balls in play indicates he may have had some bad luck. Right handed hitters have 10 of the 11 homers hit against the big left hander. He threw six one-hit innings against the Cubs this April in a win.

Dallas Keuchel: Dallas Keuchel has thrown 19,475 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2011 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason and Fall/Winter Ball. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Sinker (88mph) and Cutter (85mph), also mixing in a Slider (77mph), Change (79mph) and Fourseam Fastball (89mph).

His sinker is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers, generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sinkers, has surprisingly little armside run, has slightly below average velo and has some natural sinking action. His cutter is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' cutters, has sweeping cut action, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' cutters and has some natural sink. His slider comes in below hitting speed, has exceptional depth, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sliders and has short glove-side cut. His change dives down out of the zone, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' changeups and has below average velo. His fourseam fastball is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, is straight as an arrow, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has some natural sinking action and has slightly below average velo.

Sean's note: Keuchel finally caved and signed a one-year deal with the Braves in early June. He allowed three runs in five innings against the Nationals Friday in his debut. He has never thrown hard, his velocity tops out at Kyle Hendricks levels. Keuchel gets tons of outs on the ground, well over 50% for his career. He earned the 2015 Cy Young at the end of a dominant two year stretch in Houston. In 2018, he was solid, just not the dominant form of past seasons.

Thursday Starter: The Braves have yet to announce who is starting Thursday in Foltynewicz's spot in the rotation. I will have the usual scouting report on the starter in Thursday's game post.

 

Comments

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  • fb_avatar

    I hate 4 game home series.

  • So CarGo is 1 - 17 and Heyward is 0 - 7 against Teheren, but Almora Jr. is 1 - 2 with a homerun; why isn't Almora Jr. playing?

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    At least Descalso isn’t playing.
    Between Joe’s lineups and Theo's shitty roster it’s a miracle we’re in first.
    Where are you Solar (21 home runs 52 rbi) and Tommy Lastella and Eloy and DJ LeMahieu

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    Forgot Vogelbach and his 18 HR. only problem is that there isn’t a spot other than the bench for most of them. They would be good trade chips.

  • In reply to stix:

    Soler in right instead of an over paid Hayride. TLS at second or LeMahieu at second. LaMahieu leads of for the Yankees

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    What do you do with the overpaid Heyward just writeoff his remaining $100M? Soler did yield a good closer albeit for one yr but with Heyward a sunk cost, he becomes a sub.

    Le Mahieu was a bad trade given what the cubs didn’t get and his future development.

    LittleTommy would have been a PH as long as Zobrist was here. The Cubs didn’t plan on Zobrist personal issues when the let Tommy go. He’s a FA next year, if they still want him they can try to sign him again.

    Theo has not done well in some trades but with hindsight , he probably reconsiders the above players as trade candidates.

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    No way they could’ve started soler and Schwarber soler is a DH lucky he’s in the AL. Also this wasn’t reported but I have a friend that’s extremely close to soler and willson currently. Soler demanded a trade through his agent to the front office. He wasn’t happy with splitting playing time and generally didn’t have the best relationship with maddon due to playing time issues. He just didn’t fit with the positional surplus they had in recent years. Zero issue with that trade and the angels clearly unlocked something in la Stella that maddons coaching staff didn’t. He wasn’t that good with the cubs and I don’t recall you or anyone mourning his trade

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    Ain't hindsight wonderful? While we're at it, let's complain about all those stolen bases Lou Brock coulda had for the Cubs... Try to enjoy the game...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Feldman was far more accomplished than Arrieta and Strop.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    What about that Archer guy...? Who'd we let HIM go for? And I still can't believe we let that Joe Carter guy get away for some washed up pitcher.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    There used to be someone here who hadn’t let the Carter trade go. I can’t remember who

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    We got screwed in the Doug Clemens trade too :(

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Hey cliff you been complaining about the back end of this lineup for weeks and someone else comments and you have to be a smart..s.

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    Discussion of what the Cubs need to do going forward is a lot different from bashing the front office over past deals that can't be undone, especially when your judgment of the value of those players is so far out of whack. If that makes me a smart ...s, I'll wear it proudly.

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    Play Soler in RF instead of Heyward and the BA drops from .264 to .241, strikeout rate goes from 20% to 32%, and defense suffers. Even with the HRs, Soler's WAR this year is still under Heyward's, and he's played more. If there's any advantage, it's that Soler costs less and might free up money for a CF.

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    I’ll give you Eloy though

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Where are you playing Eloy? He is a very poor fielder but apparently a very good hitter. If the Cubs never signed Heyward, they might have had outfield room for either/both Soler and Jimenez. Do they win the WS without Heyward (his rain delay speech aside)?

  • In reply to stix:

    Good points Eloy is a much better fit in the AL ovefall. His metrics aren’t very good just bc the defensive metrics are crazy bad. As of now he’s a DH that’s a long way to go towards being even a usable OF. I think he’ll get there but does that patience fit the cubs title window anyways? Likewise If they had Lemahieu do they get zobrist? Probably not and they definitely don’t win in 2016 without him. Makes me laugh all the people turning on the organization it’s so easy to say they should’ve acquired this guy, or drafted this guy, or kept this guy. They’ve done plenty right and let’s not pretend that anyone was so devestated about trading any of these guys except Eloy for some. Like you said a lot of departed players replacements have contributed in their own ways. Jhey is also one of the leaders in the clubhouse currently and is having at least as good of a season as soler anyways. Even with playing CF hurting his defensive metrics they have similar OPS’s. And his defense is better by a mile

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I had the same thought on LeMahieu’s impact on 2016 with no Zobrist but didn't want to go there with the rest of the angst in these posts.

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    From Tony Andracki on Twitter:

    Cubs offense in June (by OPS)

    Schwarber - .860
    Bryant - .830
    Contreras - .824
    Heyward - .822
    Bote - .804
    Rizzo - .781
    Baez - .762
    Gonzalez - .668
    Caratini - .569
    Russell - .467
    Descalso - .458
    Almora - .447

    5 pitchers (Lester, Hendricks, Chatwood, Darvish, and Hamels) have a higher OPS in June than Russell, Descalso, and Almora Jr.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    So should they let the pitchers play the field and let the others pitch? LOL

  • In reply to stix:

    I've gotten to the point where I trust Lester with a bat in his hands. He has made tremendous strides in the box since he began playing real baseball.

    I guess the point is we have our best 8 hitters in the lineup, and it isn't even close.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    If you consider only June stats, you’re accurate. Gonzo is 55 for the year on OPS + Almora 77 OPS +.

    Also not really comfortable with Heyward’s defense when he’s not in RF. May need to trade a poorer hitter for better team defense and play Almora instead of Gonzo.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Good call on Lester

  • Hicks , St. Louis closer out for the year. Must be eating at the same places Morrow does.

  • In reply to stix:

    Whoa, only thing StL had going for them was their bullpen. Hicks going down will hurt.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Oneear:

    He has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and may need TJS. If so, he's out this year and very possibly next year. That's a blow, for sure. It was fun watching him pitch.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I feel bad for Hicks, but not the DirtyBirds.

  • Some news on rehabbing pitchers:

    Edwards Jr. threw from 120' and is feeling good. No word on the next step for him. Hendricks threw 15 light pitches from the mound with no ill effects. Perhaps the biggest news is Morrow. He threw his 2nd side session in AZ and is making his best progress so far since his surgery. Scheduled for a 3rd session soon.

    Kimbrel isn't rehabbing, but I have some thoughts on him. He threw back-to-back Fri and Sat and is scheduled for two days off before going again tomorrow. There is talk that he could be up Thursday. It's possible, but I'm skeptical. He was effective Fri and Sat but not particularly sharp. I think it would take an outstanding effort tomorrow for that to end his time with Iowa. I think they may play it a little more conservatively and give him a couple more appearances. Just my opinion.

  • I know brach isn’t in my or anyone’s good graces right now but tony Andracki makes a great point about how unlucky he’s been this season. He touches on how his peripherals are actually strong and he’s given up half of his runs on the season over 2 horrible outings at coots field. Also notes how the velocity and overall underlying numbers illustrate one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball. Seems brach would have a competitive market if released. Linking the article

    https://www.nbcsports.com/chicago/cubs/cubs-still-searching-answers-brad-brach-bullpen-playoffs-roster-move-mlb-barnette-chapman

  • Hope GOOD Lester shows up tonight.

  • In reply to stix:

    I would say this is GOOD Lester.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    And, of course, as soon as I comment, there goes the perfect game.

  • Oh, by the way, I've mentioned the Cubs/Dodgers series was a likely NLCS preview. This is the team we beat in the NLDS to get there.

    Go Cubs!

  • The count is already 0-2, Javy. The count is already 0-2.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Unfortunately he doesn’t bat 1000 and this happened to be one of the times he didn’t get a hit.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Second time the charm.

  • fb_avatar

    2 on 1 out in both the first two innings and 2 DP. We could regret not scoring in at least one of those innings. Julio wasn’t very sharp abs we’ve let him off the hook. Lester looks sharp though.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Just seems like whoever’s in the 8/9 spot besides bote isn’t getting it done lately. Glad that persons not Descalso anymore at least

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I'm feeling more and more confident that we will add a position player before the deadline. We could add a 2B or even 3B, and any OF spot. We have a LOT of internal bullpen options about to become available, which goes hand-in-hand. I still think we add a lefty to the pen that can miss bats, and I just have a feeling Monty might be dealt. We have a lot of decisions to make very soon, and we need to maximize our roster for this season.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I think so too barley and I think this was the plan all along after signing kimbrel. They knew that they couldn’t get an ace closer without clearing the farm. All for options that are clearly inferior to a younger wade Davis or Chapman. Tony Watson for example shouldn’t cost too much even though he has decent value, and won’t be super cheap. That opens the door for a positional player to be potentially the teams biggest deadline addition. Personally I think merrifield is a good fit but like you said they can go in other directions

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Unless the position player is left handed, I'd like to see what someone like Garcia or Dewees or one of the guys in Iowa can do.......

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    Garcia and Dewees are options, but I think we go bigger to solidify our grip on the NL Central. We need a proven bat and have a spot on the roster to accommodate that addition.

  • 9 up 9 down for the first time for Jon this year

  • In reply to TC154:

    Yeah, me too.

  • fb_avatar

    Javy seems to have a bit more swagger tonight. Maybe it was the HR the other night, but the single to right, stealing the base and as he did that dud you see him pose afterwards? Maybe this is the spark we need. Willson certainly helped tonight too.

  • Watching Wilson acting like a fool. Difference between celebrating then turning and barking at catcher and Braves bench.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    You know what the Braves said to him before he batted?

  • In reply to stix:

    I am guessing you do.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Nope but i’m not jumping to conclusions either.

  • In reply to stix:

    Exactly. All I saw was flowers laughing when Wilson was complaining about a strike call.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Based oh Contreras post game interview looks like you had him pegged .

  • fb_avatar

    A few thoughts. Sometimes Joe gets criticized but calling on Lester to swing with both corner infielders coming in was a great call. Now we need to score at least 2 runs this inning.
    Also, how strong is that ivy? Those were 2 hard hit balls and to carom off the wall and stick in there is something.
    Great hitting tonight. This is the team that can win it all. It’s not just hitting, it’s when and where and how to hit sling with Lester’s pitching too.

  • Now it's a party!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    "I'm a Barbie girl in a Barbie world.
    Life in plastic, it's fantastic.
    You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere.
    Imagination, life is your creation.

    Come on, Barbie, let's go party!"

  • fb_avatar

    We have 2 out Bote and 2 strike Baez.

  • Best run of perfect hitting all season.......this IS fun.

  • Hitting to the center and opposite fields. This leads to many runs. That is what this team needs to do every game.

  • That error shouldn’t be on javy that’s a perfect throw and bote just botched it. Bote has gotta stop the routine errors it’s his one flaw as an otherwise capable defender

  • How did Bote miss that throw?

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    ?. Bote got the E.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    It should be Bote's error. That was a good throw by Baez. I don't see how Bote could miss that.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    This is an example of how words can be misconstrued. I read your comment as questioning how the blame was placed on Bote. Something to keep in mind when we quickly judge comments. I get them wrong all the time.

  • Lester looks real good tonight!!!!

  • Ugh not ideal to pull Lester already. I know he’s at 94 pitches but I just don’t trust this pen to hold 3 innings against one of the hottest offenses in baseball. I hope joe is right and this pen proves me wrong, but if the cubs lose this game then that’s a knife in the gut. Cubs are using 2 replacement starters next 3 games plus darvish. I really hope I’m wrong on this pen

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    We're better than the Braves and we are about to prove it, replacement starters or not.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I think so too barley esp at Wrigley where the cubs are playing really well. Nice job by kintzler but I hope they can avoid using both strop and Cishek tonight. Great to see Lester with an outstanding performance overall against a strong lineup

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I absolutely love that you are a true, die hard fan. Every die hard fan just knows in their heart that their team (bullpen) will blow every game. Then, when the W happens, euphoria begins. It is the heroin rush of a die hard fan.. Let's all raise our hands if we are guilty of die hard fan-dom!!!

  • Sure hope Maddon had a good reason to take Lester out to pinch hit Descalso.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Maddon's a pretty smart dude. I bet he did.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Sure hope so. I don't want to hear how our BP is already used up anytime in this series.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Why is Delasco on the roster?!?
    He's like a car you buy to fix up, and you need to decide when you've wasted enough time and money trying to make things work, or you'll just keep wasting more and more............

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    That is a car I would never buy, unless I am in a county fair demolition derby.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Add CarGo to the list.......

  • fb_avatar

    Bote must have lost it in the lights. His glove was in position and he didn’t move it at all. That cost a few runs and maybe 10 pitches by Lester. It’s “only” 3 innings!

  • If Schwarber, Almora and Heyward win the starting allstar postions I wonder what MLB will do if that does happen.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Where are the two 3-million+ Free Agents?

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    What?

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    ** CORRECTION: Where are the 300 million+ Free Agents?

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    I have no idea what you are trying to post? LOL

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Where are the 300 million+ Free Agents in the All-Star ballots? I am curious. If anyone is worth 300 million, I would think they would be perennial all-stars. So I am wondering where they are in the All-Star voting.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Oh ok I get it now 300 million is $300 million. They're done they got their money.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I hope that doesn't happen. I plan on reminding Cubs fans of the final voting on Wednesday. I've never been one to vote straight-line. I will vote for Bryant, Javy, Rizzo, and Willson, but to vote for our outfielders over others is ridiculous.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I agree. I will vote for Bryant, Baez, Rizzo, and Willson too and not the outfielders.

  • fb_avatar

    I’m not feeling good about this, and Lester must be fuming.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Relax, Jonathan, and start setting that table. I like candles and hard rock.

  • BP where's the Barnette who was pitching at Iowa? AAAA pitcher? 1-26 against him in Iowa?

  • In reply to stix:

    Relax, the stuff was good. He was nervous. Completely understandable

  • In reply to TC154:

    I saw him pitch a lot with the Rangers. He is a very good 6th or 7th inning guy. That has value on a roster especially at his cost this year and a little less valuable next year. We need to get 27 outs one way or another.

  • In reply to TC154:

    35 yr old veteran, I guess everyone can get nervous.

  • In reply to stix:

    Of course. New team, hasn’t played in close to a year. They’re human beings.

  • In reply to stix:

    I can't throw for him, and you wouldn't like it if I did.

  • Looks as if April J hey is back!!

  • Does Joe really have to pitch Cishek in the 9th?

  • In reply to Squareburgers:

    Ryan had only thrown 4 pitches, he can't handle a 5 run lead?!?

  • 5 run lead why waste Cishek? I’d rather start the inning with Brach and hope for the best.

  • In reply to stix:

    18 pitches. He’s not available Tues.

  • W, baby!

  • Gosh I love Heyward. He was doing a post-game interview immediately after the final out. He was asked how he felt when the benches cleared, since he had spent so many years in that organization and had so many friends on that team. He said he didn't care if it was his brother on the other team, he fights for the name on his jersey. Good answer, J-Hey!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    The next few days will tell the tale, but this could be his best month as a Cub

  • Listening to Maddon's post-game presser now. I'll post some highlights
    after I process.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Are you still "processing," BP?

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