Cubs vs Braves (August 31- September 3) – Series Preview: TV and Game Info, Pitching Matchups, Insights

After an OK road trip that included losing two of three to the hapless Phillies, the Cubs got off to a great start on their seven-game homestand by sweeping the Pirates. The sweep was probably the easiest of the season, as the Cubs allowed the Pirates to plate a meager five runs and were able to score an astounding 27 runs of their own.

As a team, the Cubs offense has been spectacular since the All-Star break. They have scored the most runs in the league (270), lead the league in WAR (11.2), have the second-best wRC+ (118), have hit the second most home runs (75), and lead the league in on-base percentage (.357). I could continue and list all the superlatives, but I think you get the picture.

The Braves come to town for a four-game set over the long holiday weekend a little worse for wear than when the Cubs last saw them. Back in July, the boys from Cobb County were in the thick of the wild card race and there was much speculation as to whether they’d be buyers at the trade deadling. Well, ever since the Cubs swept them in Sun Trust Park, they have gone 14-24 to make it clear that the playoffs are not an option.

Atlanta has been pretty lackluster on the offensive end, but Freddie Freeman (3.9 fWAR) and Ender Inciarte (2.7) have provided bright spots. Even Tyler Flowers has put up some really solid numbers. Pretty much everybody on their roster had an unsustainably high BABIP in the first half of the season, so there was reason to expect offensive drop-off.

Inciarte’s production has been really weird because he’s slashing .326/.356/.418 with a ridiculous.363 BABIP. I’m curious to see how well he produces down the road, since it’s hard to imagine that many balls in play continuing to find space to land safely. Let’s hope the Cubs are able to limit his contact ability.

Braves pitching has been pretty mediocre this year. Their leader in fWAR is Jaime Garcia, a pitcher who hasn’t been on the roster for quite a while after being traded away. RA Dickey has surprised with his performance, leading the Braves in innings pitched with 161 and the starters in ERA (3.91). It is impressive to see him continue to have success at 42, but the Cubs should make quick work of this subpar pitching staff.

Game Time and Broadcast Info

  • Thursday, August 31 at 7:05 CT on CSN
  • Friday, September 1 at 1:20 CT on WGN
  • Saturday, September 2 at 1:20 CT on CSN
  • Sunday, September 3 at 1:20 CT on CSN

Starting Pitchers

Date Pitcher Age T ERA W/L FIP K/BB
8/31 Kyle Hendricks 28 R 3.45 5-4 4.04 2.78
Sean Newcomb 24 L 4.36 2-7 4.85 1.73
9/1 John Lackey 38 R 4.98 10-10 5.48 2.80
Mike Foltynewicz 25 R 4.84 10-10 4.41 2.41
9/2 Jon Lester 33 L 4.37 8-7 3.78 3.37
Lucas Sims 23 R 4.41 2-4 4.86 2.44
9/3 Mike Montgomery 28 L 3.29 5-6 4.10 1.85
R. A. Dickey 42 R 3.91 9-8 4.70 2.03

What to Watch For

  • As previously mentioned, watch for Cubs pitching to limit Ender Inciarte’s ability to get on base via contact. Inciarte’s the table setter for the Braves offense, so limiting him is important if the Cubs want to replicate their earlier sweep.
  • Look for the Cubs offense to continue dominating the opposition. The Braves pitchers aren’t all that great, so we should see some production from the bats this weekend.
  • Watch for Javy Baez to continue his spectacular play. The dude’s been insane in both the field and on offense recently.
  • Kyle Schwarber’s slowly been progressing on offense and it appears he’s figured out how to consistently go the other way with the bat. Watch for how often he’s pulling the ball in this series, because that should indicate how well he’s performing.
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