Chicago Cubs series preview: Are Atlanta Braves remedy for average start?

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Heading into the series: Chicago Cubs

Record: 6-6, 3rd in National League Central

Record (Last 10): 5-5

Team ERA: 3.26

Team OBP: .333

Team HR: 13

Team Leader (WAR): Kris Bryant–5.5

Situational hitting improving, but could be better

Entering the 2018 season, talks around the Cubs revolved around their offense. In 2017, they struggled with situational hitting at times despite scoring 822 runs (fourth best in MLB).

Fast forward to this season, where it has been more of the same for the Cubs. A .500 record is not the worst thing to have, especially through just 12 games. However, knowing the Cubs could have more wins with better hitting causes one to wonder.

Take a look at how the team has fared hitting with runners on base:

Runners on base AVG: .239, 18th in MLB

Runner on third, less than two outs AVG: .182, 27th in MLB

Runners in scoring position AVG: .19327th in MLB

Three of the Cubs losses have been by just one run; they were shutout in one of those games and scored just one run in the other. Despite all of this, things seem to be trending in the right direction for the team.

Kyle Schwarber has five hits in the last two games after going hitless in five straight contests. His batting average now stands at a respectable .270. Similarly, Ian Happ has a hit in six of his last seven games.

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Happ struck out fourteen times in a five game span, to start the season. While he still is hitting just .216, he has struck out just four times in his last four games. Baby steps, people.

I’m sure the Cubs would love to be 9-3 like the Pirates currently are. However, their record could be a lot worse than 6-6, especially with how they have hit with runners on base. Here is how they should lineup Friday afternoon:

Projected Lineup

  1. Albert Almora, CF
  2. Tommy La Stella, 3B
  3. Kris Bryant, 1B
  4. Willson Contreras, C
  5. Kyle Schwarber, LF
  6. Addison Russell, SS
  7. Javier Baez, SS
  8. Jason Heyward, RF
  9. Yu Darvish, P