Welcome to Chicago, where the players play in the day. Fans are Wrigley have an obsession with day games so get ready for 3 in a row for our Braves. The best news of this series? Jason Heyward is scheduled to get into the lineup and lead off today. Are you jacked? I'm jacked. On to the matchups!
Game 1 - Maholm (10-10) v. Baker (0-0)
Game 2 - Medlen (14-12) v. Wood (9-11)
Game 3 - Teheran (12-8) v. Jackson (8-16)
The first game is Maholm on the road. Ugh. I'll preview it anyway. Maholm has been day to day since he pitched on the 8th of September in Philly, a game we lost 2-3. However, he wasn't that bad, or at least not the total greasefire he's been on the road in the past. It's very possible that against a bad team with a full compliment of Braves swinging the bats, he could secure a win. He's facing off against Scott Baker, a guy who has two starts with the Cubs this year after taking a year off from the majors. He's lost both, but didn't factor in the decisions. He's a 7 year vet, but his career ERA is above 4.00, which shows you how desperate the Cubs are for starters. It should be a win if we're hitting and Maholm keeps it in the ballpark.
Medlen has been on fire of late. The Braves have won 4 of his starts in a row, he's been solid on the road, and he's had a September ERA of 1.31. Add into the fact that he's held this Cubs lineup to a .067 BAA, and you have a very strong case that this could be a fun pitching outing to watch on Saturday. Luckily the college games are mostly awful, so you'll get that chance. He'll oppose Travis Wood, a guy who's on a roll of his own. He's 2-1 in his last 4 starts with an ERA of 2.70 in the month of September. For a guy playing on the Cubs, it doesn't get much better than that. Tempered expectations of course. The key to this game will be Justin Upton, the guy who actually has 10 ABs off Wood, which is the most of in the lineup. Justin has had success off the guy going 3/10 with a bomb. If he can tip off the other hitters in the order, this sets up an advantage for the Braves.
Teheran didn't do what I expected in his last outing. In fact, he got lit up by the Padres in a 0-4 loss. I can't really take that one game as a benchmark though, since the Braves didn't score at all, and showed no signs of giving him any support from the jump. However, what I can benchmark is that Teheran has been shaky in his last two road starts, giving up 7 total runs. He needs to make this a good road start so he can gain back some confidence before the playoffs, and the Cubs are a good target. Most of their hitters haven't faced him before, but in the limited ABs of those who have, they are batting .400 off him. Not great. Edwin Jackson goes for the Cubs, but he's been probably their worst pitcher in terms of record. Actually, there's no probably. He is their worst pitcher. Teheran simply needs to get any amount of support from the Braves, and he should have the lead in this game to work with. Look for Freeman, Justin, and BMac to crush Jackson, as they have lifetime averages over .333 with a combined 3 homers.
The CPA predicted the Braves would beat the Nats on Thursday, even when people were panicking. It looks at this weekend to see if the Braves sew this thing up in Chicago.
CPA Prediction Game 1: Cubs 6 - Braves 2
CPA Prediction Game 2: Braves 3 - Cubs 1
CPA Prediction Game 3: Braves 5 - Cubs 4
The CPA likes the Braves to win 2 of these games and clinch the division in Chicago. The first game will be typical Maholm awfulness, followed by the Braves hitters getting some better looks against two of the Cubs less than stellar starters. Let's take this thing back to Atlanta with a division championship in tow.