The Braves and Cubs battle tonight, both in the tight NL Central.
Jair Jurrjens made a name for himself last year as one of the top rookies in the National League. Despite a 6-6 record this season so far, his ERA of 2.73 and 1.24 WHIP indicates that he's done what he's supposed to do. His mediocre records is a relection of the fact he has just not received the run support he needs from his teammates (7th lowest run support in the majors heading into his last start July 1st).
However, his July 1st start might be more indicative of what this Braves team is capable of, as he pitched 7.0 innings, giving up only 1 hit and no earned runs as Atlanta defeated the World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies 11-1. Jair is even more impressive on the road this year, where his ERA drops to a mere 2.44 away from Turner field. He's also better at night, with a miniscule 2.50 ERA. He'll be on his game on Monday night. He just has to hope that his team helps him out.
Chipper Jones and the gang will be facing Randy Wells, who has won his last 3 and hasn't given up more than 2 earned runs in that span. This promising young pitcher also faced the Braves once this year on June 2nd where he pitched 7 innings, giving up 2 hits and only 1 run in a no-decision outing. He was dominant that outing and will look to do the same Monday night. His 2.43 ERA on the season and 1.08 WHIP indicate that he too should have a better record than his current 3-3.
Two teams that are essentially .500 on the season with two pitchers who are both .500 on the season, is what makes betting on this game very intriguing. While the Braves are a decent road team (18-21) the Cubs have one of the better home records in baseball (24-14) and that could be the edge in this game. The Cubs are 48-17 in their last 65 home games versus teams with a losing record. Add the fact that they are 7-2 in their last 9 meetings against Atlanta, and that tips the scale in favour of the Cubs.
However, Jurrjens would love to get the win in his first career start at the famed Wrigley Field. If the Braves' offence, which has been hit and miss this year, gets the jump on Wells quickly, then they'll be able to count on Jurjens to shut them down.
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