Offensive Struggles Will Continue For Chicago Against Braves

Cubs vs. Braves, 7:20 ET

Cubs vs. Braves, 7:20 ET

I mentioned last week there are certain teams that I have a good feel for, and others that I have a very bad read on. The Cubs are a team that I feel like I have a good read on which can be a bit scary considering they are my favorite team. The good news is that I am open about this so you can keep that in mind as you read. The other good news is that I care more about money than I do their day-to-day successes. The Braves are a team that I've been pretty good at reading as well. I had a win in the other game I played in this series so hopefully we can replicate that today. 

I told you just a paragraph ago that I am a Cubs fan, but to me they are actually outperforming what I expected this season. The Cubs are 24-19 on the season, and while that is just five games above .500, they still look better than I expected. The team has lost three of their past four games, including the first two against the Braves. Their offense is hitting just .234 for the season, but they have more runs scored than the Braves who are hitting 20 points better than them. Injuries have been an issue for the Cubs as Justin Steele, Cody Bellinger, Seiya Suzuki, Dansby Swanson, and now Nico Horner have all appeared on the injury list. No team will escape a full season without some guys missing time, but that's four of their starters and their Ace. For them to be above .500 is pretty solid. One concern is that the Cubs have scored a total of zero runs in the 18 innings of this series. The pitching staff did a decent job in the first game, but yesterday they allowed seven runs. Today they are getting Javier Assad on the hill. Assad has been a great pitcher for the Cubs this season and has a 1.70 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He hasn't racked up a ton of innings, so he doesn't qualify among league leaders, but still eight earned runs over 42.1 innings is still good results. He has made eight starts, but hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of the outings. Braves hitters only have 22 at-bats against him, but he has allowed seven hits, including four extra-base hits. 

The Braves offense isn't quite the historical juggernaut that it was last season, but it is still early and they could turn it around. I don't want to keep bringing up last season, but I go back and look at what that lineup was doing, and it is hard to see how anyone beat them during the regular season. Don't get me wrong, this year's team is still performing well. They are hitting .255 and have scored 192 runs in 39 games which comes out to almost five runs per game. They aren't doing it with the longball which is probably one of the bigger differences this season. The 43 homers is fairly average within the league right now. The pitching staff has done a very good job this year with a 3.29 ERA and that is without Spencer Strider taking the ball every five days. The Braves at home have been outstanding as well with a 15-4 record for the year. Tonight, that pitching staff gets a chance to win another one at home as Charlie Morton takes the mound. Morton has been very good in his age-40 season. He has a 3.14 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP for the campaign. His home ERA is slightly lower than his overall ERA as well. He has put up four straight quality starts. Morton has allowed a total of 15 earned runs and 10 of those runs came in two games covering 11.1 innings. The Cubs hitters have been decent against him with a .246 batting average against him, but they are striking out around 25% of their at-bats against Morton.

This is one of those games where really either team might have a chance to win. The Braves probably have Assad's number and the Cubs hitters could still do some damage against Morton. Still, with the way the Cubs offense is playing they probably aren't going to put a ton of runs on the board. The Braves can post nine in any game, but I prefer to think Assad isn't the same pitcher as he was last season. I'm going to take under 9 runs for this game. 

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