The Cubs are 2-1 coming off their series against the awful Pirates. The Braves are 2-1 coming off their series against the Phillies. Clash of the Titans early! Not really, but we hope it will be a good series...for the Braves.
Game 1 - Feldman v. Minor
Game 2 - Teheran v. Villanueva
Game 3 - Samardzija v. Hudson
The first matchup pits the Cubs 30 year old 6'7" righty against the Braves 25 year old 6'4" lefty. Both have career ERAs over 4.00, and both have been known to put people on base. Minor has actually fared pretty well against the current Cubs lineup, holding them to a .236 team average with only one homer. Feldman has never faced the Braves in his career, other than the Uptons (Justin sports a .400 average off him in 5 ABs). Despite the fact that both pitchers have some experience in the league, neither guy has a lot of experience against the other team. Minor faced the Cubs once in 2012, with a 7-3 win. He also faced them in 2011 on the road and came out with a 5-4 win. As you can see, he gave up some runs, but we managed to get him off the hook with some big offense. With this lineup, that's even more likely. Feldman spent most of career with the Rangers before getting sent out to pasture with the Cubs. His ERA skyrocketed to over 5.00 last year in 21 starts, which helped prompt his exit. In fact, his overall record in 2012 was 6-11, and that was on a Rangers team that won 93 games. Six wins in 21 starts on a team that had a +101 season run differential means you stink. We should take this guy to the woodshed.
Game 2 gives everyone in Braves country their first glimpse of Teheran if they weren't watching in spring training. The 22 year old righty Teheran has almost no experience at the MLB level, having only started 4 games. His spring was ridiculously impressive with a 1.04 ERA in 6 starts, 35 Ks, and 9 walks. He commanded the zone well and held opposing batters to a .082 average. We all want to see if that translates to the big screen. The 29 year old righty Villanueva has 7 year of experience, and a very mediocre 4.26 ERA to show for it. The thing to note about Villanueva is that he's a strikeout artist. Let that soak in a bit with our lineup. In fact, Villanueva chalked up 122 Ks last season with the Toronto Blue Jays in 125 innings. He doesn't walk a lot of people either, so the plan is to knock him around. That was pretty easy last year since he gave up 23 homers in his 16 starts. He's a bang or bust pitcher against our bang or bust lineup. Something will have to give, and I'm hoping it's him.
The anchor game features one of the guys I absolutely despise in the majors, Jeff Samardzija. Not only does he have two strikes on him for being a long-haired freak out of Notre Dame, but he's also a complete jerk who enjoys throwing at batters. Oh and he's also pretty good, and he generally frustrates the heck out of our batters. In fact, the entire team only hits a combined .185 off the guy, and Jeff is coming off an 8 inning shutout of the Pirates with 9 Ks. Meanwhile, Hudson barely got out of trouble with a no-decision in his first tilt against the Phillies, and he has a 6.23 ERA for his 4.1 innings of work. Taken at face value, including their spring training numbers, these are two pitchers that have been trending in different directions. Huddy is trying to find his zone early, and Jeff is ringing people up at will.
That's the matchups, on to the CPA. The CPA has a lackluster 1-2 start on the season, mostly because the Braves refused to hit last night. We can see how things even out against the Cubs.
CPA Game 1 Prediction: Braves 6 - Cubs 3.
The CPA expects an explosion of offense by the Braves in this matchup. Feldman has been struggling since last season, and he hasn't won against any team except the Royals since July 29th. Let's go rough him up.