The Cubs head to Atlanta for a three-game set against the top team in the National League after a successful 5-2 home stand. They swept the Marlins, took two of three from the White Sox, and lost their makeup game against the Braves on Monday. Yu Darvish will return from his DL stint to start the first game of the series and the Cubs will get their first look at Braves top pitching prospect Michael Soroka on Thursday.
How have the Braves been able to grab hold of the NL-leading 25-15 record? Quite simply, their offense has been superb thus far in the year, with Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, and rookie sensation Ozzie Albies leading the charge. Albies has smashed 13 home runs to put him in a tie with Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper, and Jose Ramirez for the league lead. As a group, the Braves’ offense is second overall in fWAR, a mere 0.2 wins behind the Cubs.
In the past week, the Cubs have scored a total of 58 runs, which is slightly 8 runs per game. I think it is safe to say they have emerged from the funk we saw them in for a good two weeks. Willson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, David Bote, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Tommy La Stella, and Albert Almora Jr. have all reached base at least 40 percent of the time since the Marlins series started. They have also hit 25 extra base hits in this span.
Needless to say, the offense is working on all cylinders right now. Sadly, Javy Baez has not been able to contribute much in the past week, which is the way things work from time to time. He has been great all year and batters sometimes go into slumps.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Tuesday, May 15 at 6:35 CT on NBC Sports Chicago
- Wednesday, May 16 at 6:35 CT on WGN
- Thursday, May 17 at 6:35 CT on WGN and MLB Network (out-of-market only)
What to Watch For
- As previously stated, Darvish will make his return on Tuesday night. Given that he has had time to rest and recuperate, expect him to pitch well.
- Baez has cooled off a bit recently. Watch for his plate appearances to see if he is still working deep counts and not swinging wildly at sliders that are way off the plate.
- Tyler Chatwood continues to have issues locating the strike zone. He has walked 19.3 percent of the batters he has faced, yet has not paid as much of a price for it as you’d expect. Look for him to find the zone, because if he is unable to do so you should fully expect the Braves to make him pay for his lack of command.