The Braves took two of three from the Nationals and now travel up to Chicago and meet up with their new first basemen, and former Cub, Derrek Lee. Lee is batting cleanup in his first game as a Brave with Martin Prado remaining in the third spot of the lineup. As if playing his former team in his first game isn't odd enough, Lee will bat against Ryan Dempster, who has been his teammate for 12 of the past 13 seasons.
Friday, 2:20 EST: Jair Jurrjens (5-4, 3.92 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 2.14 K/BB) vs. Ryan Dempster (11-8, 3.62 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 2.32 K/BB)
Since returning from the disabled list on June 30, Jurrjens has a 2.91 ERA and 45 strikeouts to 17 walks in 58.2 innings. This has been some of the best pitching that we have seen from Jurrjens in his Atlanta tenure. In Jair's last two starts he has gone 14.1 innings and has allowed just two earned runs, walked two, and struck out ten. Dempster has been solid again this season and is one of the Cubs top pitchers. This afternoon's game features the likely best pitching matchup.
Tommy Hanson has been an absolute animal since the start of July, posting a 1.71 ERA, 47 strikeouts, 12 walks, and... one win over nine starts. Obviously, Hanson has gotten no run support and has been plagued by poor defense. The Braves have won the past two times he has started, so hopefully Hanson can get the credit if he pitches well on Saturday. Gorzelanny is a tough lefty and they usually give the Braves problems. He has pitched well for the Cubs this season and they will need to bring the bats on Saturday in order to put Hanson in the winning column for the first time in nine starts.
Mike Minor earned his first Major League win in his last start and has impressed in his short tenure in Atlanta. Minor has 10 strikeouts and three walks in his first 12 innings with the big club and has thrown consecutive quality starts. The rookie's mound presence and confidence seem to be his most impressive assets as he has begun his career pitching down the stretch run for a potential playoff team. Wells has seemingly thrown the ball better in his second season than in his rookie season, but is getting extremely unlucky compared to last year when he was one of the luckier pitchers in baseball. His BABIP if .329 points to hits landing more frequently than expected and he is a tougher pitcher than his record or ERA would indicate.
The Cubs have some solid hitters as they have a mix of veterans and youngsters. Alfonso Soriano is a noted Braves killer -- his OPS of 1.083 against the Braves is his highest against any opponent. Rookies Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin have impressed this season with Castro having an average over .300 and Colvin providing the power with a .260 ISO.
Carlos Marmol has been impressive yet again, striking out 16.17 batters per nine innings. Other than Marmol, the bullpen is shaky at best. Most of the relievers have FIPs substantially higher than 4.00 and getting to their bullpen should be a goal in this series. If the Braves are able to work the count as they so often do, they should see some poor middle relief arms to score on.