This afternoon the Cubs will play a one game tiebreaker against the Brewers. Both teams wound up with a 95-67 regular season record, tied for the top of the National League, and the top of the NL Central. The winner will rest until Thursday when the NLDS starts at their home park. The loser will need to play in the wildcard game on Tuesday against either the Rockies or the Dodgers to win the right to play... wait for it... the team they lost to on Monday.
There is a lot at stake. So I wanted to take a minute to do an in depth look at the pitching match-ups for today
As luck would have it Jose Quintana will pitch on regular rest for the Cubs in game 163 against the Brewers. We’ll take a look at why that is excellent news for the Cubs in a second. Milwaukee finally announced as starter as I was finalizing this post. I was wondering if they would announce a traditional starter at all, after all they were the first NL team to use the opener against the Cardinals last week. If either Chacin or Q struggle early this will become a bullpen game quickly. As Tom Verducci said on MLB Tonight “The Brewers want to make this a bullpen game and if it is, edge Milwaukee.”
When the Cubs traded for Quintana last year they had two goals in mind. First and foremost they wanted him to realize his ceiling as an ace as they were losing John Lackey and Jake Arrieta. Second they wanted to keep him out of Milwaukee. Q has struggled at times in Chicago and hasn’t realized his ace potential yet, but he has been very good against Milwaukee since the Cubs traded for him last year. In 37⅓ innings against the Brewers this year Q has a 2.17 ERA. The Brewers are hitting only .177 against him, and he's only given up more than 2 Earned Runs one time.
The Brewers will do their best to harness the magic from their one successful outing against Q. On August 14 they scored 5 runs off Quintana at Wrigley. Those runs we're mostly the result of 3 HRs, one by Lorenzo Cain and two by Ryan Braun. The Cubs bats never woke up that day and they lost 7-0.
Chacin has been very good against the Cubs in 2018. In 22⅔ innings he’s amassed a 1.59 ERA and Cubs batters have only manged to hit .183 against him. Although during his last start at Wrigley on September 5 the Cubs were able to tag him for seven hits and three earned runs in 4⅔ innings. He relies primarily on a fourseam fastball, slider and sinker while occasionally mixing in a change-up or curve.
This game is a rematch of the September 5 outing that the Cubs wound up winning 6-4. As I noted above, both managers will likely be quicker to pull their starters at the first sign of trouble, particularly since they still have expanded rosters to use in this game.