Major League Baseball
Cubs-Braves preview
Major League Baseball

Cubs-Braves preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 12:14 p.m. ET

ATLANTA -- It's not the most enviable situation for the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves sport a .232 team batting average, among the worst in the National League. So it's probably not comforting to know they must face the reigning Cy Young Award winner who brings extra motivation after having his 20-game winning streak broken in his last start.

The Cubs will send right-hander Jake Arrieta to the mound to face the Braves. Arrieta is 9-1 with a 1.80 ERA, but was beaten by Arizona in his last start, despite striking out 12 in five innings. It was his first loss since July 25, 2015, which was the longest winning streak in team history and surpassed the 16 straight that Rick Sutcliffe posted in 1984-85.

Despite the odds against them, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said the Braves will show up and field a team on Saturday.


"It's baseball. Anything can happen," Snitker said. "Like last week the Giants were the hottest team in the league and we took two out of four against them."

The situation is similar to the series opener on Friday, when Atlanta got a pair of home runs and seven strong innings from Bud Norris and beat Chicago 5-1. The Braves hit back-to-back home runs in the game, with third baseman Adonis Garcia and catcher Tyler Flowers going deep, and Norris allowed only one run on four hits.

"It's always nice to get a couple runs early," Flowers said. "It helps your starter."

Arrieta is 2-3 with a 2.81 ERA in four starts against Atlanta. He was 2-0 against the Braves in 2015 and allowed no runs and seven hits in 13 innings of work.

He will be opposed by Atlanta right-hander Matt Wisler (2-6, 3.98), who will try to bounce back from his worst start of the season. He was roughed up for eight runs in four innings against the Dodgers, which pushed his ERA from 3.18 to 3.98.

Wisler will be making his second career start against the Cubs. He took the loss against Chicago last year when he allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings.

The Cubs are hopeful that first baseman Anthony Rizzo can return to the starting lineup. He did not start on Friday because of tightness in his back.

Rizzo isn't the only Chicago player who is ailing. The Cubs placed infielder Tommy La Stella on the 15-day disabled list with a sore hamstring. He was replaced on the roster by Chris Coghlan, who was traded to Oakland in the offseason after spending two seasons with the Cubs.

Coghlan was hitting just .153 in 51 games for Oakland, with five homers and 14 RBI. Coghlan hit .283 for the Cubs in 2014 and .250 for them in 2015. He lined out as a pinch hitter in his return on Friday.

"He did a good job for us when he was here and we believe we can get him back on track," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said.


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