Usually, I run these series previews on the day the set begins, but since the Cubs are enjoying a well-deserved off day, I thought I'd get some discussion going about the upcoming series against the Brewers.
The Cubs just swept the Brew Crew in Miller Park, which is certainly an achievement. Sweeping any series, especially a four-game set, is never easy, and the Cubs just repeated that feat against the Giants. However, the Brewers have been particularly awful at home this year. They've got the worst home record in the major leagues, 24-36 -- and that includes sweeping two series at home since the All-Star break. They're nearly as bad away from Milwaukee, with a 24-29 record on the road.
That's what we hope will come into play this week at Wrigley Field. Since July 10 the Brewers are 3-7 on the road (in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Arizona). The Brewers did take two of three from the Cubs at Wrigley Field in May, but this is a far different Cubs team than they were back then. (I say "back then" as if it were years ago, and it's only three months, but there really does seem to have been tremendous change and growth in the Cubs over that period.)
Tuesday: Dan Haren (7-7, 3.49 ERA, 1.119 WHIP, 4.74 FIP) vs. Taylor Jungmann (6-3, 2.26 ERA, 1.074 WHIP, 2.89 FIP)
Wednesday: Jason Hammel (6-5, 3.17 ERA, 1.049 WHIP, 3.36 FIP) vs. Matt Garza (6-12, 4.95 ERA, 1.480 WHIP, 4.81 FIP)
Thursday: Jon Lester (7-8, 3.22 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, 2.95 FIP) vs. Tyler Cravy (0-3, 5.40 ERA, 1.450 WHIP, 4.00 FIP)
The Brewers are having a similar freefall to what happened to the Cubs after they made their deadline deals in 2014. Milwaukee traded away five significant players from their 25-man roster: Mike Fiers, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Gerardo Parra and Jonathan Broxton. Since July 22, when that purge began, the Brewers are 6-13 and been outscored 82-57 in those 19 games. They managed to squeak out a 5-4 win over the Cardinals on Sunday (and thanks for that!) but before that had been shut out twice in a row by St. Louis.
The Cubs don't match up favorably on Tuesday, though they did hit Taylor Jungmann well enough July 31 at Miller Park. Matt Garza has been awful this year, though he managed to shut down the Padres offense on August 6. And Tyler Cravy? He was in Milwaukee's preseason MLB.com Top 30 Prospects list, but just barely -- 26th.
I have promised to not predict sweeps and I'm sticking to that. But there's no reason the Cubs shouldn't win two of three here.
The Cubs head to the South Side for three against the White Sox at the Cell starting Friday afternoon.