Game Twenty-Two: Cubs (16-5) vs. Braves (5-17)
- Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: WSCR 670 The Score, Cubs Radio Network, XM Radio Channels 183, 844
- Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Jon Lester (2-1, 1.98/0.84/3.40) vs. Aaron Blair (0-1, 5.06/1.50/3.86)
What is now a five-game homestand continues today with the first of three with the Braves. The Cubs host the Braves for the next three days, weather permitting, in Atlanta’s annual trip to Wrigley Field. The Braves are coming off a win at Fenway Park and will look to take a series from the Cubs this weekend.
The Braves are in full rebuilding mode but have talented young players on the roster and veterans that have had a lot of success against the Cubs over the years. If the Cubs overlook the Braves with the Pirates series just around the corner, it will not be a happy flight to Pittsburgh. These are the games and series teams with post-season aspirations must win.
The Cubs were 6-1 against the Braves a year ago and face three very talented starting pitchers over the next three days.
The Braves received Aaron Blair from the Diamondbacks in the haul for Shelby Miller. Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson were included in the trade for Miller where in reality, Blair and Inciarte would have been enough for Miller. Swanson was the biggest name in the trade but many think Blair may end up being the best player the Braves received in the deal. Blair has top of the rotation stuff and makes his second big league start this afternoon.
After today’s matchup of Jon Lester and Aaron Blair, if the rain stays away John Lackey is scheduled to face Julio Teheran on Saturday afternoon. The series and homestand wraps up on Sunday with Jason Hammel taking on Matt Wisler.
David Ross will be behind the plate this afternoon and look for Joe Maddon to focus on fielding the best defensive team he can.
Today all starts with Jon Lester …
Jon Lester takes the hill for the first time in a week. Lester held the Reds in check last Friday night at Great American Ball Park. Lester made one mistake in what was an outstanding effort in Cincinnati. Lester allowed a Zack Cozart homer, on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts in seven innings.
Outside of one start versus the Reds, Lester has pitched well this season. The Cubs need for Lester to continue the way he’s pitched to this point of the year. Lester has allowed six runs, all earned, on 18 hits with five walks and 23 strikeouts in four starts (27 1/3 innings).
Lester makes his third start of the season at Wrigley this afternoon. Lester is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 0.98 WHIP.
Today is Lester’s sixth career start against the Braves. Jon Lester is 3-2 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. Last season, Lester beat the Braves the only time he faced them and took a no-hitter into the eighth after a scoring change late in the game removed Atlanta’s only hit.
Braves Career Numbers against Jon Lester
- Nick Markakis: 17-for-76 with six doubles and four walks
- Erick Aybar: 9-for-29 with one double and three walks
- A.J. Pierzynski: 7-for-21 with three doubles
- Jeff Francoeur: 2-for-18 with one double and one walk
- Tyler Flowers: 5-for-18 with one double
- Kelly Johnson: 1-for-15 with two walks
- Freddie Freeman: 2-for-8 with one triple and one walk
- Drew Stubbs: 0-for-8 with one walk
- Jace Peterson: 0-for-3
Aaron Blair makes his second big league start tonight. Blair is coming off a solid debut against the Mets. The 23-year old right-hander allowed three runs on six hits with two walks and a strikeout in 5 1/3 innings.
Blair is incredibly talented and possesses No. 1 stuff. Blair features a heavy 91-95 mph fastball that induces weak contact and groundball outs. His 11-5 curveball (72-76 mph) generates a lot of swings and misses and his change of pace (81-84 mph) is considered a plus pitch.
After spending the first three years of his pro career in the Diamondbacks’ system, Blair was lights out at Triple-A before the Braves called him up. In three starts, Blair was 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA and 0.78 WHIP. Blair allowed three runs on 10 hits with five walks and 22 strikeouts in 19 innings.
In two seasons at the Triple-A level in the D-Backs and Braves’ systems, Blair posted a 10-2 record in 16 games, 15 starts, with a 3.19 ERA and 1.13 WHIP (78 strikeouts, 32 walks, 77 hits in 96 innings).
No one on the Cubs active roster has faced Aaron Blair in a regular season big league ballgame.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …