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GameThread, 4/28/2022: Cubs @ Braves, and Acuña’s back

Drew Smyly vs. Kyle Wright, also featuring Ronald Acuña Jr.

MLB: APR 29 Cubs at Braves Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome back to the Ronald Acuña Jr. show, everyone. It’s been a slog to this point, but maybe it gets less sloggy tonight. We’ll see.

Color me pleased that the Braves did the awesome thing and kept Matt Olson hitting second with Acuña’s return to the lineup. This is fairly close to optimal in the top five, and while ideally you might like to see Austin Riley hit fourth, that’s less of a big deal than burying Olson in the three spot and giving the two spot to someone else.

The Cubs will play a few guys that they haven’t yet in this series in Jonathan Villar (pinch-hit on Tuesday) and Alfonso Rivas. Rivas a pretty hilarious .289 wRC+ (.374 xwOBA) in 13 PAs but is projected to be a replacement-level corner player. Villar, whose career has basically consisted of out-hitting his xwOBA by a silly degree while running a league-average wRC+ even with that “occurrence,” is doing it again — .335 wOBA, .313 xwOBA — but has been so awful defensively in the early going that he’s at -0.1 fWAR right now.

This is the first time the Cubs are using this nine in order, but when they had this nine on the field (and at DH) previously this year, they won 21-0 against the Pirates. Let’s hope we get the opposite of that for them in this game.

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