Southpaw Matinee at Wrigley Will Go Cubs’ Way vs. Braves

jose quintana

Matthew Jordan

Friday, April 13, 2018 1:53 PM GMT

Friday, Apr. 13, 2018 1:53 PM GMT

Jose Quintana makes his first career April home start as a Chicago Cub as the North Siders host the Atlanta Braves on Saturday afternoon (2:20 ET).

Atlanta Braves at Chicago CubsFree MLB Pick: CubsBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Handful of matinees around baseball on Saturday, and one of them is from Wrigley Field with a 2:20 ET first pitch as the Braves and Cubs play the second of a three-game set. It’s Atlanta’s only visit of the season to the Friendly Confines.

Saturday, being April 14, is also a very important date for the future of the Braves. Why? The team had to keep the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball, 20-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna, in the minors until April 13 to limit his service time for 2018 and prevent him from becoming a free agent until 2024. Had the Braves decided to keep Acuna on the Opening Day roster, he would have hit free agency a year earlier. Cubs fans no doubt remember the team kept super-prospect Kris Bryant in the minors for the first few weeks of the 2015 season before calling him up. His first game was April 17 that year, but the season also started a few days later.

Now, I’m not saying Acuna will be called up Saturday, because that would be too obvious. But, the kid showed this spring how talented he is by batting.432, the best in the Grapefruit League, with four home runs, 11 RBIs and four stolen bases. The Braves offered him a $30 million deal this spring to buy out a couple of free-agent seasons but Acuna’s camp said no thanks. He’ll be up soon – although Acuna is scuffling in the minors currently.

Meanwhile, the Cubs remain without first baseman Anthony Rizzo, on the DL for the first time in his career. Rizzo is dealing with a back problem he says was due to a hotel bed in Cincinnati. Rizzo was scuffling in the early going with a .107 average and seven strikeouts in 28 at-bats. The team has largely been going with Ben Zobrist at first, but backup catcher Victor Caratini also can play there.

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Jose Quintana's curveball has 4x more movement this year. pic.twitter.com/ETR1RX6yLe

— Brendan Miller (@CubsRelated) April 12, 2018
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Probable Pitchers: Newcomb vs. Quintana

It’s scheduled to be a matchup of lefties on Saturday. Atlanta’s Sean Newcomb is considered a big part of the Braves’ future as the 24-year-old was the No. 15 overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Angels. He was acquired by Atlanta on Nov. 12, 2015, in the Andrelton Simmons deal with the Halos.

Newcomb (1-1, 4.35) wasn’t sharp in his season debut vs. the Nationals (4.1 IP, 6 R) but surely was last Sunday at hitter-friendly Colorado in shutting out the Rockies on five hits over six innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. Newcomb threw 63 percent of his pitches for strikes, inducing 15 swinging strikes.

In two career starts vs. the Cubs, Newcomb is 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA, allowing 16 hits (two homers) in 10.1 innings. The Cubs hit a collective .356 off him. Javier Baez is 4-for-6 against Newcomb with a homer. Bryant is 2-for-5 with a double.

The Cubs’ Jose Quintana (1-1, 4.50) also had a very shaky debut in 2018 (six runs allowed in Miami) but then threw six shutout innings Sunday in Milwaukee with only three hits allowed. It’s his season debut at Wrigley, where he was 5-0 with a 4.76 ERA in eight starts last year after being traded from the White Sox. Quintana hasn’t faced the Braves since 2016. Nick Markakis is 3-for-15 off him with four Ks. Freddie Freeman is 3-for-6 with a homer.

  • Braves are 2-5 in Newcomb’s last 7 road starts.
  • Cubs are 7-1 in Quintana’s last 8 home starts.

The Cubs have won 19 of their past 26 at home vs. a lefty, while Atlanta is just 1-6 in the past seven meetings overall. Take Chicago for a Saturday MLB pick. Early lean toward ‘under’ as well but as always at Wrigley, it depends on the wind.

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