Series Preview: Chicago Cubs (29-49) @ Atlanta Braves (41-37)

The red hot Chicago Cubs travel to Atlanta fresh off sweeping the super-talented Houston Astros. The Braves lost 2 of 3 to the Nationals over the weekend. 

Teams at a glance

Stat Cubs Braves
wOBA .297 .317
wRC+ 80 (16) 98 (5)
UZR 2.5 (6) 35.7 (1)
BsR 1.2 (7) 6.0 (2)
SP ERA 4.32 (15) 4.22 (12)
SP FIP 4.05 (11) 4.35 (14)
RP ERA 4.48 (11) 3.73 (8)
RP FIP 4.66 (16) 3.75 (7)

After the dominating pitching the Braves had in the 90s I still can't get used to them having a starting rotation that isn't all that good. They're pretty bad as starters, about league average in relief, but they do make up for it with an excellent defense and one of the best baserunning teams in the NL. The Cubs have improved considerably on the bases on their defensive metrics indicate they've also improved there too. The starters have been horrible and the relievers just as bad. The offense too. Other than that they're kicking ass.


Lendy Castillo is on the Rule 5 Draft DL. There's probably nothing wrong with him, but he's not good enough to pitch at the big league level so they put him on the DL. I can't help but think that this is detrimental to a player's future. I think MLB needs to do something about rule 5 picks so that this doesn't happen in the future. Perhaps there is something wrong with Castillo, but this seems to happen to all rule 5 picks who suck and most of them do. The player's should have negotiated this into the CBA because this seems rather deplorable to me. Not the Cubs. They're just doing what every team does. I'm talking about what these teams do. It's a system that's broken and could be easily fixed.

Marcos Mateo and Ian Stewart are out for the rest of the season. Blake Parker probably is, as well. Ryan Dempster is out with a lat injury and is expected back after the all-star break. A couple bad starts from him and he may be untradeable prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. Who would have guessed that after his incredible start? It happens. Especially to the Cubs.

Brandon Beachy, Peter Moylan and Arodys Vizcaino are out for the season. Robert Fish was placed on the 15 day DL back on April 2nd, retroactive to March 26th, and has yet to appear in a game this season. 

Who's hot and who's not?

Everybody on the Cubs is hot. Nobody on the Braves is. 

Monday, 6:10: Jeff Samardzija (5.05 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 3.64 xFIP) vs. Tommy Hanson (3.59 ERA, 4.72 FIP, 4.41 xFIP)

Samardzija had a very rough June. To give you an idea just how rough it was, batters slugged .570 against him. Small samples don't tell us a whole lot, but that's getting hit hard. It's really hard to figure out what to make of Samardzija. One one hand he's had 5 out of his 15 starts in which he's allowed 5 or more runs. If this was Carlos Zambrano the fans would be going ape shit crazy wondering why he can't keep the Cubs in a ballgame even though Z's rate of 5 or more was nowhere near 33%. On the other hand he's been damn good in his other starts. To this point anyway, you seem to get a really start from Samardzija or the offense has little to no chance to even make it close. His peripherals are still solid though that walk rate has been inching up for awhile now. Did he show improved control over 70 to 80 innings or has he really improved his control? If he has improved it there's no reason he can't be a solid back of the rotation starter. If he hasn't, it's not going to work out. 

Hanson's ERA is in line with what he's done the last couple years, but his FIP is way higher. He's struckout fewer batters this year, walked more, allowed a higher BABIP and allowed more home runs per fly ball. He's stranded 82.2% of the runners keeping his ERA low, but he really hasn't pitched like a 3.5 ERA pitcher has. At least not yet.

Tuesday, 6:10: Chris Volstad (7.46 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 4.65 xFIP) vs. Jair Jurrjens (6.07 ERA, 5.95 FIP, 6.01 xFIP)

Volstad is back to make his first start since being demoted to Iowa where he wasn't really that impressive. He posted an ERA of 4.44 though his FIP was about 3.6. ZiPS projects him to be a 4.57 FIP pitcher going forward. 

After getting rocked to start the season Jurrjens spent the next two months on the DL. In two starts since returning he's 13.1 innings, allowed 9 hits and 3 runs, struckout 4 and walked 4. Neither pitcher on Tuesday strikes many out, but neither walk a lot of guys either. 

Wednesday, 6:10: Paul Maholm (4.84 ERA, 4.67 FIP, 4.42 xFIP) vs. Randall Delgado (4.52 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 4.14 xFIP)

I had so much fun filling in for Berselius that I'm going to cut this preview short. 


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