The Cubs (56-53) continue to play excellent baseball, winning three of four from the Cincinnati Reds to move within 2.5 games of first place in the National League Central. They have a 14-6 record since the All-Star break with a suddenly explosive offense leading the way. Chicago will now face a very stiff test as the best team in baseball, the Atlanta Braves (69-37), come in for a three-game weekend series at Wrigley Field.
The Braves do everything well and have a double-digit lead in the National League East. Their 3.85 team ERA is the 7th best in the league and their bullpen ranks fourth with a 3.63 mark. Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder have stepped up nicely in the rotation to fill in for injured ace Max Fried who, unfortunately for the Cubs, returns Friday after missing three months with a forearm strain.
Atlanta may have good pitching, but their offense is historically great with an .837 team OPS that is a whopping 35 points ahead of the second-place Dodgers. The Braves have 206 home runs so far, putting them 32 ahead of the next closest team and on pace to smash the all-time single-season record.
First baseman Matt Olson has 37 home runs and an .967 OPS, and he isn’t even the leading MVP candidate on the team. That’s because center fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. has 26 homers, 51 steals, and a 1.002 OPS. Then they have three more players with over 20 dingers
Chicago will definitely have their hands full with this team, especially if the conditions remain as favorable as they have been all week. David Ross has his squad playing the best they have all season, so hopefully they can give Atlanta a headache this weekend. Honestly, taking one game out of three would feel like a win against this Braves machine. Or maybe the Cubs can get another series win to send everyone’s confidence through the roof. It should be entertaining no matter how it turns out.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Friday, August 4 at 1:20pm CT on MLB Network (out of market only) and Marquee.
- Saturday, August 5 at 1:20pm CT on Marquee.
- Sunday, August 6 at 1:20pm CT on Marquee.
What to Watch For
- Jeimer Candelario has nine hits in his first three games since coming over from Washington.
- The Cubs have yet to name a starter for Saturday’s game after Marcus Stroman went on the IL with hip soreness.
- Yan Gomes is red-hot and just saw a 10-game hitting streak snapped Thursday.
- Dansby Swanson had four home runs and a double against Cincinnati.