Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs Series Preview

Atlanta did pretty darn good down there in Florida. Let's hope that they can keep the momentum going in the upward direction on the homestand. The Braves come home to honor Bobby Cox at Turner Field by retiring jersey #6 before kicking off a three game series against the Cubs. This will be the first time that the Braves see the 2011 Cubs, the last club that they are yet to face left on the schedule.

The Cubs will have to go another year without breaking their World Series drought, but Chicago isn't playing too poorly right now. Though their record sits at just 51-67, they just came off of a series win against the Nationals and have won nine of their last eleven. The Braves would like to take care of the Cubs this weekend, because their next two series are against the Giants and the Diamondbacks. Both of these NL West teams are hungry for playoff baseball and have the Braves standing solidly in their way.

Dan Uggla will have an opportunity to extend his streak to 34 games over the weekend at Turner Field. It is highly likely that Jose Constanza continues to play over Heyward during the series, as he has continued to shine at the big league level. Constanza has been nothing but a tremendous surprise since he was called up, hitting .413 with an OBP of .438. Unfortunately for the Atlanta crowd, it looks as though there is no chance of seeing Brian McCann return to action during the weekend series, as was considered. He will be rehabbing down the road in Gwinnett, likely until the Giants come to town.

The Cubs currently rank second-to-last in the National League in team ERA and have converted just 29 of 46 save opportunities. The pitching just isn't getting it done for Chicago this season, though Starlin Castro, Aramis Ramirez, and Marlon Byrd are doing their absolute best to make up for it at the plate. Castro at the shortstop position, has, however, had a major hand in the Clubs last place fielding percentage. If he develops into at least a marginally decent defensive shortstop, he will be a stud in the league for years to come.

Pitching matchups after the jump...

Friday Night:


Mike Minor

#36 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves

6-3

210

R

L

Dec 26, 1987

 


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Mike Minor 1-2 7 7 0 0 0 0 39.0 45 21 21 0 17 31 4.85 1.59


Carlos Zambrano

#38 / Pitcher / Chicago Cubs

6-5

260

B

R

Jun 01, 1981

 


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Carlos Zambrano 9-6 24 23 0 0 0 0 141.1 146 72 70 14 56 98 4.46 1.43

Mike Minor will face Big Z in his second start for Jair Jurrjens. Zambrano always does damage at the plate as well as in the clubhouse, but hasn't been handling batters like his old self for a couple of seasons now. In 2011 he holds a respectable 9-6 record but a not-so-hot 4.46 ERA. The Braves have beat him around for a 5.43 ERA in his 12 career starts against Atlanta.

Saturday Night:


Derek Lowe

#32 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves

6-6

230

R

R

Jun 01, 1973

 


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Derek Lowe 7-10 25 25 0 0 0 0 139.1 153 76 74 9 53 95 4.78 1.48


Randy Wells

#36 / Pitcher / Chicago Cubs

6-5

230

R

R

Aug 28, 1982

 


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Randy Wells 3-4 14 14 0 0 0 0 77.1 92 53 52 15 31 50 6.05 1.59

Of course, Lowe's earned run average is actually worse than Zambrano's, but is coming off of a solid start against the fish. He went six innings and gave up just two runs on the night on his way to a win. Randy Wells is a right hander that the Braves' bats should mash hits against, though he holds a 2-1 record and a 2.88 ERA against Atlanta in four career starts.

Sunday Afternoon:


Brandon Beachy

#37 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves

6-3

215

R

R

Sep 03, 1986

 


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Brandon Beachy 5-2 17 17 0 0 0 0 97.0 84 40 37 14 31 105 3.43 1.19


Matt Garza

#17 / Pitcher / Chicago Cubs

6-4

215

R

R

Nov 26, 1983

 


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Matt Garza 5-9 22 22 1 0 0 0 134.2 127 66 57 11 48 138 3.81 1.30

Beachy is coming off of a great start against the Marlins, going six and two thirds and giving up two runs on just three hits. Facing off against Beachy will be Matt Garza, making Sunday's game the premier pitching matchup of the series. Garza was great with the Rays and has been solid for the Cubs this season. Despite some early season struggles, he has settled into a manageable rhythm of inconsistency for the Cubs, giving up large run totals only every third or fourth time out.

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