Friday MLB Preview – Braves at Cubs

The Cubs will be facing off against a former teammate this afternoon in the first game of a three-game set at Wrigley Field.

Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs

Atlanta starts this three-game series with a new first baseman in the fold, as Derek Lee joins the team and will face his former ball club out of the gate.  Lee spent seven seasons in Chicago and hit .298 with 179 home runs and 574 RBI over that span.  “The main thing is we’ve got six weeks to go and Atlanta’s in first place,” he said.  “They’re playing great baseball.  A chance to go to the postseason, it’s hard to pass up.”  The Braves went 5-2 on its last homestand and now head off on a six game road trip.  Atlanta is 27-33 on the road this season (-800) and the total stands at 29-28 O/U in those contests.  The team is also 10-9 as a road favorite of -125 to -150 (-180) in 2010 and 22-22 in this situation the last three years (-760).

Braves starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens is 5-4 with a 3.92 ERA in 14 starts this season and has led the team to three straight victories.  Over that span, he has allowed five runs (four earned) and 19 hits in 20.1 innings of work.  The right-hander is 0-4 with a 6.39 ERA in seven road starts, issuing 12 walks and striking out 23 batters in 38 frames.  In seven daytime starts, Jurrjens has compiled a 1-4 record and 6.13 ERA, while producing a perfect 4-0 mark and 1.88 ERA at night.  In two lifetime outings versus the Cubs, he has posted an 0-1 record and 3.27 ERA, including allowing two runs (zero earned) and three hits over five frames.

Chicago has lost 18 of 22 games and was outscored 20-9 by San Diego this week in a four-game sweep.  The Cubs have also lost seven straight at home, which is their longest losing streak since 2006.  The homestand against the Padres and Braves pits the club against division leaders that rank first and second in team ERA in all of baseball.  San Diego heads out of town leading the majors with a 3.18 ERA while Atlanta enters with a 3.40 mark.  Manager Lou Piniella’s team is 5-13 in August (-590) and the total is 10-7 O/U over that span.  Chicago has also produced a dismal 3-9 mark as a home underdog of +100 to +125 in 2010 (-580) and 4-12 record over the last three years (-780).

Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster is 11-8 with a 3.62 ERA in 25 starts and is coming in on a three-game winning streak.  In those outings, he has allowed nine runs (three earned) and 16 hits over 19.1 innings of work.  The right-hander is 5-4 with a 3.43 ERA in 12 home starts, compiling 77 strikeouts in 81.1 frames.  The veteran will be making his 13th daytime start, producing a 4-5 mark and 4.05 ERA, while giving up 12 long balls in 80 innings.  In 27 appearances (16 starts) versus the Braves, Dempster brings a 2-11 record and 4.94 ERA.  He will also get his first opportunity of facing his old teammate at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon.  “I hope everybody in the stadium gives him a standing ovation for everything he’s given in the past seven years he’s been here,” Dempster said.

Bettors will notice that the Braves are 4-13 in Jurrjens last 17 starts versus the National League Central and the under is 12-2 in his last 14 starts against that particular division.    Chicago isn’t in much better shape, producing a 2-6 mark in Dempster’s last eight starts against the National League East.

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