Wednesday marks the third of a four-game set from Wrigley Field as the Atlanta Braves do battle with the Chicago Cubs in a matchup of National League behemoths. After Atlanta’s win Tuesday, both teams are leading their respective divisions, with the Braves holding a 5.5-game lead in the NL East while the Cubs hold a one-game lead in the NL Central. Atlanta has been red hot in June, going 16-6 including a 10-game winning streak in the middle of the month. Meanwhile, the Cubs have been treading water and fending off the second-place Brewers, going 12-11 this month. This very well could be a preview of a playoff matchup we get to see in October.
Both teams made big splashes in free agency just a couple of weeks ago. The Cubs signed heralded closer Craig Kimbrel, while the Braves signed Wednesday’s starter Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel will get the ball for the second time in 2019 after his first start last Friday. In that game, Keuchel went five innings and gave up four runs, only three earned, en route to taking the loss against the Nationals.
Keuchel had a couple of really great seasons with Houston, including winning a World Series with them. Last season, Keuchel went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA. That’s right about Keuchel’s career norm. He’s never really found that ace-like stuff he had in 2015, but he is a great No. 2 or 3 starter in your rotation.
In that 2015 season that saw Keuchel win 20 games, he was known for working in the bottom of the zone and getting a lot of swings and misses. However, last season, his breaking pitches weren’t working nearly as well, and that saw a dip in his SwStr% as well as a rise in his Contact%. Atlanta is hoping that Keuchel can re-find that swing and miss stuff.
For the Cubs, Yu Darvish will get the ball for his 17th start this year. So far, Darvish is 2-3 with a 4.75 ERA. Since signing a massive six-year, $126 million deal with Chicago, Darvish has not been able to find the magic he had while pitching in Texas. Darvish hasn’t recorded a win since April 27, even with some decent starts since. Since that win, he has allowed three runs or less in a start six times, but the offense could just never pick him up.
It is actually kind of impressive, and almost record-breaking, how few decisions he has gotten in 2019. His last start against the Mets was his 10th straight, and if he gets another on Wednesday, he will set an MLB record. If his home numbers are any indication, it looks like he’ll get a decision, but not one that the Cubs fans would hope for. Darvish is 0-5 with a 5.66 ERA in 12 career starts at Wrigley Field.
Yu Darvish is terrible at home, and the Braves are a great hitting team. Their team batting average of .265 is good for fifth in all of Major League Baseball. They are also top-10 in OBP, runs, home runs, and slugging %. This could be the game where Dallas Keuchel settles into his new threads, and that’s what I’m banking on. Take the Braves.
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