Fresh off a sweep of the Rockies, the Atlanta Braves will continue their road trip in Chicago against the Cubs for a three-game series set to begin on Monday evening. Unlike the Braves, who just happen to lead all of baseball in runs scored entering today, the Cubs have struggled to plate runners this year, ranking 25th in baseball.
This is a franchise transitioning to new management and their production on the field has suffered because of it. Their record is 12-17, tied for the second-worst mark in the NL.
Chicago has been led this season by first baseman Bryan LaHair, who has come out of nowhere to post an OPS of 1.257. He leads his club in homers (7) and has driven in 16 runs thus far. While his hot start has been big for the Cubs, LaHair is bound to regress with a current BABIP of .527 (read more here). Other than him, young shortstop Starlin Castro has been very good this year and is among baseball's best with 11 steals.
Alfonso Soriano, who is earning $19 million dollars this year, is yet to hit a home run and has an OPS of .561. That's not typically how you want to spend your money. Joe Mather, who played sparingly with the Braves last year, has the second-best wOBA on the team at .382 (read more here.)
Remember when people called Geovany Soto (and not Brian McCann) the best young catcher in baseball a few years ago? After a few seasons of mediocrity Soto has picked up right where he left off, putting up a slash line of .147/.247/.249.
The Cubs really don't have many good hitters in their lineup and should not score too many runs against Atlanta in this series. Their pitching has been solid, though, and will give the Braves' hitters a serious battle at the plate.
Start Times & Pitching Matchups:
Monday, 8:05 ET - Tommy Hanson vs. Jeff Samardzija (3-1, 3.41 ERA, 2.91 xFIP; read more here)
Tuesday, 8:05 ET - Randall Delgado vs. Ryan Dempster (0-1, 0.95 ERA, 2.87 xFIP)
Wednesday, 2:20 ET - Tim Hudson vs. Paul Maholm (3-2, 5.13 ERA, 4.54 xFIP)