I thought I'd bring this series back for the regular season's final weekend, just to give you the setup for the Cubs/Brewers matchup, which, at least as we go into it, still does have some meaning. If the Cubs can keep winning and get some help from the Reds (who certainly helped the Cubs out in Cincinnati this week!), the wild-card game could still take place at Wrigley Field.
I'm not going to Milwaukee for any of these, as I am getting ready to head to Pittsburgh for the wild-card game. It will be a fun trip, but I'd also be happy to not make it at all and head to Wrigley on Wednesday.
Dan Haren has been with the Cubs for two months and has made 10 starts in the blue pinstripes (or, the blue alt, which he seems to prefer on the road). That's three more starts than this weekend's Milwaukee starters have made, combined, in the major leagues.
Friday: Jake Arrieta (21-6, 1.82 ERA, 0.879 WHIP, 2.39 FIP) vs. Ariel Peña (2-0, 3.91 ERA, 1.348 WHIP, 3.57 FIP)
Saturday: Kyle Hendricks (7-7, 4.09 ERA, 1.195 WHIP, 3.46 FIP) vs. Tyler Wagner (0-1, 11.74 ERA, 2.609 WHIP, 6.27 FIP)
Sunday: Dan Haren (10-9, 3.67 ERA, 1.147 WHIP, 4.68 FIP) vs. Jorge Lopez (1-0, 5.40 ERA, 2.000 WHIP, 1.54 FIP)
All three of the Cubs' starters have something to shoot for in this final weekend. For Jake Arrieta, it's a chance to lower his ERA below the 1.80 mark and win for the 22nd time. For Kyle Hendricks, it's to solidify his claim on a playoff start and also to drop his ERA under 4.00 for the season. He hasn't been under 4.00 since August 14, but (for example) six innings of scoreless ball, or seven innings with one run, would do it.
For Dan Haren, this will likely be his final appearance in a big-league uniform, as he isn't likely to be on a Cubs postseason roster and he's strongly hinted he'll retire after this year. I'm sure he'd like to go out on a high note.
The Cubs have never faced any of the young Brewers pitchers listed as starters for this series. They did pretty well against kids like that in Cincinnati, so I'd expect that to continue.
I'd love to see the season end with a sweep, which would mean an eight-game winning streak and the possibility of a wild-card home game. But as I promised long ago, I'm not predicting sweeps anymore. So: two out of three. More meatloaf heading to the postseason.
The wild-card game against the Pirates, Wednesday, October 7.