2023 Cubs Road Trip Preview: Atlanta, Milwaukee
The Cubs embark on their final road trip of 2023 – in the regular season at least.
And the Cubs are entering that stretch right in the thick of the National League playoff race – exactly where they hoped to be.
Tuesday: LHP Justin Steele vs. RHP Bryce Elder
Wednesday: RHP Jameson Taillon vs. TBD
Thursday: RHP Marcus Stroman vs. TBD
The Braves placed a pair of starting pitchers on the IL in recent days due to finger injuries, so they’re scrambling to sort through their options.
NL Cy Young candidate Spencer Strider (18-5, 3.73 ERA, 270 strikeouts) started Game 2 of the Braves’ doubleheader on Sunday so he won’t pitch against the Cubs. 24-year-old right-hander Bryce Elder will start Game 1 with the rest TBD.
Meanwhile, the Cubs opted to reorder their rotation with Monday’s off-day. Steele will start on regular rest Tuesday and look to get back on track after a couple of tough outings in a row.
Taillon has been pitching well lately as 2 of his last 3 starts have been of the 6 shutout inning variety.
Stroman made his first start in two months Saturday, allowing 3 runs in 3 innings. He will have one more chance Thursday to get stretched up before the playoffs.
Friday: RHP Kyle Hendricks vs. RHP Brandon Woodruff
Saturday: LHP Jordan Wicks vs. RHP Freddy Peralta
Sunday: LHP Justin Steele vs. RHP Adrian Houser
This is just a guess, as there are a lot of moving parts for both teams heading into the final series of the year.
Hendricks would be on normal rest to start against the Braves, but the Cubs will have him go in Milwaukee instead.
It will be very interesting to see how both teams treat Game 162. If the Cubs need to win on the final day of the season to punch a ticket to the postseason, Steele will get the ball. If they have a spot locked up but Wild Card seeding is not solidified, do they still trot out Steele?
Quote of the Week
“If you would’ve asked anybody — whether it’s this group or the fanbase — in the middle of June or early July where we were at if they’d have us in the Wild Card and making a playoff push, everybody would’ve said, ‘sign me up.'” — Ian Happ
Storylines to keep an eye on
—How do the Braves handle this series? They long ago clinched the division and have a nice cushion on the Dodgers (4 games) for the No. 1 seed. They’ll likely still be playing to secure the top spot in the NL, but it’s doubtful they push their players hard and some of their top arms or position players may get some time off this week.
—How do the Brewers handle the final series of the year? They have the division locked up and can’t climb above the 3 seed so they’re guaranteed to be playing in the Wild Card round, which starts two days after this series ends. Will they start any of their top pitchers or will they rest their main players and make sure to line things up for the playoffs?
—Jeimer Candelario and Adbert Alzolay loom as important injury developments this week. Candelario (back) could come off the IL Tuesday, as he has been doing baseball activities over the weekend at Wrigley Field. Alzolay (forearm) threw a bullpen Sunday morning and the Cubs don’t yet have a timeline for when they could be getting their closer back.