Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves both undervalued heading into the season?
Given we’re talking about two teams that won a combined 185 games last season, it’s pretty remarkable that, by most standards, neither the Cubs nor the Braves are the favorites in their respective divisions.
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But, that’s where things stand early on in 2019. Both clubs will undoubtedly look to channel that in their play as they look to return to October baseball again this fall. For Atlanta, that begins and ends with their pitching staff.
Q: What can we expect from the pitching staff?
A: Similar to the Cubs, you can expect a ton of walks. The Braves pitching staff walked 20 batters in their three-game series with the Phillies. This is the same issue we had at the end of 2018, and it looks like it will still be an issue in 2019. But outside of walks, you can expect to see a lot of young, talented pitchers who are still trying to find their way in the big leagues. The Cubs will get two of our most experienced starters in Sean Newcomb and Julio Teheran. Teheran looked really good in his start on Opening Day. Newcomb continued to have command issues in Spring Training, so Braves fans don’t know what to expect from him in game one of the series.
Walks. Walks, you say? Well, we may not root for the same teams, but at least Cubs and Braves fans can relate to one another this week after both clubs’ staffs limped through the first three games of the season.
Q: There seems to be more talk about the Phillies, Mets and Nationals coming into the season. Are people sleeping on the Braves?
A: The Braves are in the same boat as the Cubs here. Atlanta didn’t really make any big splashes in the offseason, while their division rivals did plenty to grab the headlines. It looks as if the Braves front office is still playing for the future and not focusing on going all-in for 2019, which is probably the smart decision, but it’s hard to handle as a Braves fan after winning the division last year.
The Cubs and Braves open their three-game set in Atlanta on Monday night. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. CT. Once this series concludes, Chicago heads north to Milwaukee to take on a scorching-hot Brewers ballclub, so getting some wins under their belt against the Braves is key.