Looking to make it four straight wins, the Chicago Cubs send veteran left-hander Jon Lester to the mound in Monday’s series opener against Atlanta.
Coming off three-straight in the ‘W’ column, the Chicago Cubs open a series against the Atlanta Braves. At the start of the season, these two clubs carried widely different expectations, but, entering Monday’s opener, are separated by just one game in the win column.
Chicago (46-45) moved back above .500 with a sweep of Baltimore Sunday. They gained a game in the National League Central, as well, as Milwaukee lost to the Phillies. Heading into Atlanta, veteran left-hander Jon Lester takes the ball, hoping to put the worst start of his career behind him.
Lester started the Cubs’ final game of the first-half. In that outing, he failed to make it out of the first at Wrigley Field. Before that frame ended, Chicago looked up at a 10-0 deficit to the Pirates. The southpaw owns a 4-2 career record against the Braves with a sterling 2.14 ERA. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is above 4.00, as well.
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He should get plenty of run support. Chicago is averaging nine runs per game in the second half, so far and several key hitters are white-hot. Catcher Willson Contreras put together his first career four-hit game in Sunday’s finale. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo also homered in the win.
Opposite Lester, hard-throwing right-hander Julio Teheran takes the ball for Atlanta. The two-time All-Star has struggled badly this year at home, coming off a 3.21 ERA in 188 innings a year ago.
His current 4.79 ERA would mark his worst single-season performance since 2012 if he doesn’t turn it around in the second half of the season.
Chicago and Atlanta continue their three-game set Tuesday night at SunTrust Park.
John Lackey makes his return from Plantar Fasciitis and left-hander Sean Newcomb pitches for the Braves. First pitch Tuesday is at 6:35 p.m. CT from Atlanta.