Coming off a sloppy, disappointing series with the Nationals that saw Atlanta win only 1 of 3 games, the Braves are finally moving into an easier portion of their schedule. After not playing a team under .500 the entire month of June, Atlanta welcomes the dismal 29-49 Chicago Cubs to Turner Field for a 4 game series. Making the series even more interesting, the Braves will face Cubs frontliner Matt Garza, who has been mentioned as a possible trade target for Atlanta.
The Cubs come into this series as the worse team in baseball, record-wise. At 29-49, Chicago is the only team that has yet to hit the 30 win mark on the season. Their .372 winning percentage is also dead last in MLB. A cursory glance at the Cubs' stats shows why. Of the 30 teams in baseball, only the Padres have scored fewer runs than Chicago. The Cubs batters are last in the league with a 6.6% walk rate. If we turn to advanced metrics, the Cubs accumulated WAR ranks 28th in the league, and their wRC+ is 30th.
The Cubs lineup starts with Starlin Castro, who has been hitting 2nd of late. Castro has been one of the Cubs 2 best hitters this year, good for 2.1 WAR. A .300 hitter, keeping Castro off the bases will be key to stopping the Cubs attack. Hitting behind Castro is the Cubs top prospect: recently called up first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Through his first 4 games, Rizzo has posted a .267/.313/.600 line. Hitting cleanup is Chicago's leader in WAR at 2.2, Alfonso Soriano. Soriano leads the Cubs with 15 home runs on the year. Shutting down the Cubs' top 3 should be the Braves' top priority for this series.
Cubs pitching has a been a bit better, but is still lacking. The Cubs are 27th in the league in team ERA, and 24th in team WHIP. Their staff is 25th in FIP and 30th in xFIP, despite having several decent starters. Ryan Dempster, Jeff Samardzija, and Matt Garza have all posted WAR of over one so far on the year. A look at pitching matchups for the 4 game set after the jump.
Monday, July 2, 7:10 PM
Tuesday, July 3, 7:10 PM
Wednesday, July 4, 7:10 PM
Thursday, July 5, 7:10 PM