Greetings fellow BCBers!
This is a first attempt at a new series for the remainder of the season. The series is named (for now) "On The Horizon" and will focus on the next series that the Cubs will play, giving a look at the upcoming opposition and pitching matchups in detail. And with that, away we go!
After splitting a 4-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Cubs take the short trip to the north to play the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers come into this series with a 16-6 record and, needless to say, are firing on all cylinders. Walking out of Miller Park with one win could be seen as a successful weekend; walking out with two could be seen as something miraculous.
LIKELY PITCHING MATCHUPS:
Friday - Carlos Villanueva (1-4, 10.93 ERA, 2.143 WHIP) vs. Matt Garza (0-2, 4.50 ERA, 1.308 WHIP)
Saturday - Travis Wood (1-2, 2.52 ERA, 1.240 WHIP) vs. Marco Estrada (1-1, 2.66 ERA, 1.099 WHIP)
Sunday - Jason Hammel (3-1, 2.60 ERA, 0.687 WHIP) vs. Wily Peralta (3-0, 2.19 ERA, 1.095 WHIP)
The Brewers’ starting pitching this year has been incredibly tough; they currently have four starters with a WHIP of 1.10 or lower. The Cubs will get a bit of a break as they’ll be avoiding the Brewers’ top two pitchers from a WHIP standpoint in Yovani Gallardo (1.074 WHIP) and Kyle Lohse (1.029 WHIP). Also, they’ll get the opportunity to face Matt Garza and put their bunting skills to good use. Unfortunately, the Friday matchup will feature Carlos Villanueva, who will likely (and thankfully) be making his last start before Jake Arrieta comes back from his rehab stint.
The Brewers’ offense features five players whose OPS is currently above .750:
- Ryan Braun, RF, .948
- Carlos Gomez, CF, .899
- Jonathan Lucroy, C, .884
- Aramis Ramirez, 3B, .812
- Scooter Gennett, 2B, .793
They also only have one player whose OPS is under .700 (Jean Segura, SS, .614). Gomez is facing a 3-game suspension for his role in last Sunday’s bench-clearing brawl against Pittsburgh; sources at Brew Crew Ball state that he is appealing his suspension, so he’ll be playing until the appeal process is complete.
The Cubs, by comparison, will come into this series with only two players with an OPS over .750 (Anthony Rizzo, .890, and Emilio Bonifacio, .827) and a handful either hovering around or under .700. It’s likely that Darwin Barney and his .501 OPS will not see much action this weekend given the right-handed starters, but with Nate Schierholtz currently at .520, Ryan Sweeney currently at .470, and the recent injury to Justin Ruggiano, there’s not a lot of consolation to be had as one of the two will likely be playing each day.
The Friday game stands to be an extremely ugly affair unless Villanueva can somehow find the magic he had at the beginning of 2013, which doesn’t seem very likely. The Cubs’ best chance at a win may actually come in the Saturday tilt, as the Brewers are currently only hitting .247 against left-handed pitching compared to .262 against right-handers. Hammel is due to come back to earth sometime, and given that half of the hits he has allowed have been for extra bases (including 5 that have left the yard in only 27.2 innings), this Sunday could be a rough go for him, given that the Brewers are 5th in the NL in home runs and 2nd in the NL in OPS.
BEAU’S PREDICTION: 1-2. Although I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we headed to Cincinnati empty-handed.
That’s it for this series; any comments or feedback are greatly appreciated. Enjoy your weekend, and Go Cubs!