Series Preview, TV info, and Prediction: Cubs vs. Braves


by - Staff Writer -
David Banks - USA Today Sports
David Banks - USA Today Sports

The MLB Scheduling committee has put a strange schedule together this season. Across April, the Cubs have seen what seems like the same three opponents with the Mets sprinkled in for three games. They have played Milwaukee nine times, Pittsburgh six, and now the Cubs will get the Braves again for four games after facing them three games on the last homestand.

For the Cubs, it will be all about their offense as they continue to search for the consistency needed to rip off big offensive outputs. Fans saw a glimpse of that during the team's four-game winning streak on the last homestand, but the final two games against Milwaukee mixed with two subpar outings with the Braves saw the Cubs finish the homestand 5-4 and now sit at 10-11 on the season.

A winning homestand is always the goal, but the Cubs left a few games on the table that they realistically could and should have had. With Atlanta being the first of this two-city seven-day trip, the Cubs hope to get back above .500 and keep that surging in the right direction.

Here are the pitching matchups we will see:

Monday, April 26 6:10 PM CDT on ESPN Zach Davies 1-2 8.80 ERA 10K vs. Charlie Morton 1-1 3.91 ERA 27K

Outside of his season debut against Pittsburgh, Davies has struggled and hasn't gotten through five innings since that start. Not only has his command been sketchy, but high pitch counts have done him in as his ERA across his past three starts sits at 12.10 in just 9 2/3 innings of work.

That trend continued in his outing against Atlanta, where Davies was charged with four runs in just four innings of work as the pitch count got to him again. He will need to cut down on the walks and limit high leverage pitch count innings for him to have a chance.

Signed as the significant offseason pitching acquisition for the Braves, Charlie Morton is like a fine wine that gets better with age. After putting together several strong seasons with both the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays, Morton has come to Atlanta, where he is the current ace of the staff until others return. Armed with a mid-90's heater, Morton feeds off his curveball, which he felt better about in his last start.

Come off a one-run performance in six innings against the Yankees, Morton will be pitching on an extra day's rest, hoping to continue his successful season. Only Austin Romine and Matt Duffy have seen Morton, with Romine going 3-6 off him in his career. This could be another double-digit strikeout game for the Cubs offense, as Morton can do just that.

Tuesday, April 27, 6:20 PM CDT on MARQUEE Network: Trevor Williams 2-1 4.66 ERA 19K vs. Ian Anderson 1-0 3.27 23K

Williams will be facing Atlanta for the second time in 10 days after allowing just one earned run in five innings in their last meeting. Williams followed that up by allowing two earned runs in a five-inning no-decision in his previous start against New York, as all three of his home starts have yielded two runs or less.

Making a road start for just the second time this season, Williams hopes for better results after getting lit up by Pittsburgh in his only road outing. ERA aside, Williams has been a pleasant surprise for the Cubs as one rough start inflated that ERA. Much like Davies, Williams is having a tough time getting into the sixth as his pitch count remains high. Keeping Marcell Ozuna in check will be the key for Williams.

Coming off one of his best starts as a pro last time out, Anderson will look to build off that against the Jekyll and Hyde Cubs offense. Not only is this his first career appearance against this team, but his 64 strikeouts are the most in Braves history through a players first 10 appearances. Anderson tossed 6 2/3 scoreless frames against the Yankees on Wednesday and now turns his attention to a Cubs offense that he could keep in check.

Wednesday, April 28, 6:20 PM CDT on FS1: Kyle Hendricks 1-2 5.68 ERA 18K vs. Huascar Ynoa 1-1 3.68 ERA 25K

Hendricks looked like the Hendricks of old on Friday against Milwaukee, picking up his first win of the season. That makes two great starts against the Brewers this season as he continues to pitch well against them.

Hendricks did, however, allow back-to-back homers in the sixth inning, which has been an occurring trend this year. Against Atlanta two starts ago, Hendricks was tagged for seven runs in four innings, with six of those runs coming in the first off four home runs. Hendricks needs to not only work the bottom half of the zone against this team but hit the corners as the Cubs need him to get back to Ace form.

You will be facing the Cubs for the second time in less than two weeks, and his last start is one to forget. The Cubs played long ball off Ynoa as he was charged with seven earned runs in three innings as the Cubs offense went on to route the Braves 13-4. Chicago belted six homers that day, and it was a pleasant sight to witness that offense come to life.

Take that start away, and Ynoa has been impressive this season. His high 90's heater can certainly give the Cubs fits as long as he can locate his slider. If he does that, the Cubs will have to sit on his heater, and we all know how much they struggle to hit that.

Thursday, April 29, 6:20 PM MARQUEE Network/ MLB Network Adbert Alzolay 0-2 5.40 ERA 17K vs. TBA

Making his first start against someone besides Milwaukee will be Alzolay as he searches for win No. 1 this season. While his 5.40 ERA is nothing to get excited about, Alzolay has continued to improve in each start, especially against Milwaukee on Saturday.

In 4 2/3 innings, Alzolay had his slider working holding the Brewers to bats to two runs and striking out seven in a no-decision effort. This will be Alzolay's second career start against Atlanta, with his first coming in 2019. That also was his first career MLB start as Alzolay struggled with his command giving up five runs in three innings. Atlanta has yet to announce a starter for Game four.

Prediction: 2-2 split

If you go back to their last series at Wrigley, it was a feast or famine type of series for each side. One game, you had the Cubs crank six homers in what was a 13-4 win only to have the Braves return the favor with five homers in their 13-4 win. Atlanta also took game one of that series.

So far this season, both teams have underachieved, but it has been the Braves who have underachieved a little bit more. Yes, they are 9-10 but coming off an NLCS appearance last year that went seven games, people expected more from this team. Their pitching staff has a ton of injuries which is a big reason for their struggles, but their offense has yet to kick it in gear themselves.

With Ronald Acuna Jr missing time, Ender Inciarte missing time, and several others who have already missed a handful of games, the Braves offense has yet to click. They are showing signs of that lately, much like the Cubs but are still searching for their first hot streak of the year. Look for a similar series this time around, with each team taking a pair of games for the 2-2 series split.

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