Consider this a stiff test for the Cubs, nothing against the Pirates, but the Braves are a different animal. The weather should be much nicer than it was in Pittsburgh so hopefully that means that Cubs bats will heat up with the temperatures as they have been cold as ice so far. That said, the Cubs enter the series with a 2-1 record, the same as the Braves, below you will find all the important information pertaining to the upcoming series, everything you need to know in one convenient place.
Cubs won two out of three against the Pirates in Pittsburgh
Braves won two out of three against the Phillies at home
Game Times and Broadcast Information:
- Friday, April 5, 2013 – 6:30 PM CST on CSN+ (click to find your channel), MLBN
- Saturday, April 6, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on WGN TV
- Sunday, April 7, 2013 – 12:35 PM CST on CSN Chicago
Starting Pitchers Scheduled:
Game One – Scott Feldman (0-0, 0.00)
– Career vs. Atlanta (1 GS) (0-0, 2.57 ERA)
Game Two – Carlos Villanueva (0-0, 0.00)
– Career vs. Atlanta (10 appearances, 1 GS) (1-2, 7.20 ERA)
Game Three – Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 0.00)
– Career vs. Atlanta (8 appearances, 2 GS) (2-0, 2.66 ER)
Game One – Mike Minor (0-0, 0.00)
– Career vs. Cubs (4 GS) (4-0, 4.30 ERA)
Game Two – Julio Teheran (0-0, 0.00)
– Career vs. Cubs (First appearance)
Game Three – Tim Hudson (0-0, 6.23)
– Career vs. Cubs (6 GS) (2-1, 3.44 ER)
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not:
For the Cubs, the entire offense is frigid, only scoring six runs over the first three games of the season. They aren’t getting hits either as they have the worst team batting average in all of baseball at .121, they don’t ask how, just how many when it comes to wins….or something like that. Closest thing resembling a hot hitter would be Nate Schierholtz, Nate had a huge two-run homer yesterday, and is hitting .333 on the season. The Cubs pitching has been fantastic, well Cubs pitching not including anyone named Carlos Marmol. The Cubs are 8th in the Majors with a 2.08 team ERA, a big reason why they are 2-1.
The Braves have as many home runs as the Cubs do runs (six). Freddie Freeman is on a mission in the early going, hitting .500 (5-for-10) with one double, one home run, and six RBI’s. One of the Braves newcomers isn’t finding things so easy, B.J. Upton has been slow out of the gate going 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts. The Braves are hovering around the middle of the pack when it comes to team ERA with a respectable 3.00, surprisingly Tim Hudson isn’t helping as his only start was a rough one where he gave up three runs in 4.1 innings of work.
Look for the Cubs bats to get healthier in this series despite having to face two young stars in Minor and Teheran, and one solid veteran in Hudson. Unfortunately the Braves will continue their hot hitting and take two out of three from the Cubs this weekend.
Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
Lets go back to Monday night with Carlos Marmol on the mound and the Cubs up by two in the eighth, Marmol put the first two hitters of the inning on and up stepped Freddie Freeman with runners on first and second. Freeman lined
a ball up the middle that was caught easily by Castro behind the second base bag. The Cubs proceeded to get out of the inning and win the game. Besides the obvious answer, why was this play so important? In years past that is a base hit and the Braves continue to threaten, probably tie the game, and possibly take the lead. Castro being where he was to make the catch shows me the Cubs are actually beginning to look at player tendencies and spray charts a little more than they had in years past. I know at times putting a shift on might come back to hurt you, but players’ tendencies usually don’t lie. As in the case Monday the defensive positioning of Castro went a long way in the Cubs winning the game. Lets fast forward a day and bring Freddie Freeman back up to the plate. Freeman once again hit the ball on the screws only for the ball to be caught routinely by Castro in back of second base. Freeman would come up again later and line a ball that Dempster would catch, just a guess, but if that ball got by him I would think that Castro would have been there to make that play too.
It seems like a little thing, but organizationally it is a component that was not there previously. Did they shift in past years, yes, but that was on the players that get the shift put on them league wide. This year the Cubs defense is moving with each hitter because they know what his tendencies are and they can position themselves properly, which should give them an advantage. The new Cubs regime has obviously placed a greater emphasis on this part of the game and it has already and will continue to play a big role in this team getting better.
The Cubs look to keep things rolling as they welcome the Atlanta Braves to Wrigley Field for a three game set. This will be the second series in a row where the Cubs will be facing one of the best teams in baseball. The Cubs first test was over the weekend against the Dodgers, and they passed with flying colors taking 2 out of 3. If the Cubs are going to do the same thing in this series they are going to need an outstanding pitching effort. They have been getting that lately, but they will be really tested in this series against the top run scoring team in the National League.
The Braves are led by the usual suspects in Chipper Jones, and Brian McCann, but are also getting solid production from Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward. The Cubs should be able to take advantage of a Braves pitching staff that has been knocked around a bit this season. The Braves come into the series with a 4.41 ERA which ranks 14th in the National League. The Cubs haven’t lost a series since the April 20-22 series to the Reds, let’s keep that going, go Cubs!
Full preview/breakdown after the jump.