The Cubs just split their four-game series with the Mets and remain just a half-game ahead of the second-place Brewers in a crowded NL Central. The best story of an inconsistent week was the stellar debut of Adbert Alzolay Thursday. The 24-year-old will get to make his first career major league start during the upcoming four-game set with the Braves.
The Braves have been red hot and have now built an impressive 6.5 game lead in the National League East. The offense is outstanding as evidenced by a team OPS of .806, paced by Freddie Freeman slashing .316/.404/.605 with 21 homers. Josh Donaldson is having a bounceback 2019 and Ozzie Albies has destroyed the Cubs in his short career.
The pitching, especially the starting rotation, has not been as good. The one bright spot is Mike Soroka, who is sporting a 2.07 ERA. Luckily for Chicago, they miss his turn in the rotation this series. Mike Foltynewicz was expected to be staff ace, but just got sent to the minors. The need for a starter was so acute that the Braves added free agent Dallas Keuchel and already activated him last week. Luke Jackson has been handling closing duties for a pretty effective bullpen.
The Cubs have been struggling of late with a 5-8 stretch since they swept the Cardinals in early June. A very good Atlanta team, which whitewashed the North Siders the first week of the season, is not going to be an easy opponent. Hopefully a dramatic win on Sunday can springboard them to a hot streak. The NL Central race is still wide open, so let’s see if the Cubs can start playing better baseball.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Monday, June 24 at 7:05pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago
- Tuesday, June 25 at 7:05pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago+
- Wednesday, June 26 at 7:05pm CT on MLB Network (out of market) and WGN
- Thursday, June 27 at 1:20pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago
What to Watch For
- Jason Heyward has six hits in his last two games, maybe he’s heating up just in time to beat up on his old team.
- Alzolay and Chatwood get starts this series as Joe Maddon temporarily moves to a six-man rotation.
- The Braves have not announced who will start in the spot vacated by Foltynewicz on Thursday.
- Keuchel might not be the only long-dormant free agent pitcher to appear in the series, as there’s still a possibility that Craig Kimbrel is activated later in the week.
- Look for righty reliever Tony Barnette to make his Cubs debut soon. He was activated from the 60-day IL Sunday and replaced Rowan Wick on the 25-man roster.