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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Brewers series preview

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The Brewers have a new look offense, but starting pitching is still a weakness.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers were particularly tough on the Cubs last year before the Cubs finally put them away in late September.

I asked Kyle Lesniewski, manager of our SB Nation Brewers site Brew Crew Ball, to tell us a bit about the 2018 Brewers.

So far on the young season, the Brewers have been pretty much exactly what they looked like on paper coming in. The starting rotation has been a bit weak, with only one quality start the first time through the order. As if there were more need for concern in that regard, Chase Anderson’s velocity appears to be down a couple ticks in the early going, so that will be something to watch for as the season goes on. The Brewers are counting on him to be an effective starter.

Fortunately for the rotation, the bullpen has looked as strong as could be hoped. As a group, the ‘pen has allowed only four runs so far in 27⅓ innings, with Josh Hader looking particularly nasty; he’s got seven strikeouts through three scoreless innings. The bullpen’s ability to go out and throw up zeroes has helped to mitigate any issues from the short starts Milwaukee has received so far, but that’s a good recipe to burn out a relief corps by midsummer.

Offensively, the lineup has looked strong, with the additions of Yelich and Cain looking as good as advertised. Both are hitting over .400 in the early going and the lineup as a whole is putting the ball in play a lot more, with a cumulative K-rate in the bottom third of the league after setting MLB records for whiffs the last two seasons. Craig Counsell’s balancing act in the lineup will continue as he tries to find enough at-bats for everyone, but so far things have been clicking as the team is 4-1 in their first five games and are averaging over five runs per game.

Fun fact

Last year these teams were very evenly matched. The Cubs won 10 of the 19 games, but the Brewers outscored the Cubs 88-84 in those 19 matchups.

Pitching matchups

Thursday: Jon Lester, LHP (0-0, 8.10 ERA, 3.000 WHIP, 4.50 FIP) vs. Brent Suter, LHP (1-0, 5.40 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 4.60 FIP)

Friday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (0-0, 1.50 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, 3.33 FIP) vs. Brandon Woodruff, RHP (0-0, 5.40 ERA, 1.800 WHIP, 5.10 FIP)

Saturday: Yu Darvish, RHP (0-0, 10.38 ERA, 1.615 WHIP, 6.92 FIP) vs. Zach Davies, RHP (0-1, 9.53 ERA, 1.412 WHIP, 3.70 FIP)

Sunday: Jose Quintana, LHP (0-1, 9.00 ERA, 1.667 WHIP, 4.33 FIP) vs. Chase Anderson, RHP (0-0, 3.60 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 5.90 FIP)

Yikes. Most of those Cubs numbers don’t look great. Remember — those reflect just one start. And the Brewers numbers don’t look much better.

Times & TV channels

Thursday: 7:10 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago

Friday: 7:10 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago Plus

Saturday: 3:05 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago, FS1

Sunday: 1:10 p.m. CT, WGN

Prediction

Since the Cubs returned to contention in 2015, they are 35-22 against the Brewers. That includes a 19-10 mark at Miller Park, and they were 7-3 against Milwaukee there last year.

The Cubs will right the ship by taking three of four in this weekend set.

Up next

The Cubs have the Wrigley home opener Monday against the Pirates, the first of a three-game set that continues Wednesday and Thursday of next week.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Brewers?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    4
    (40 votes)
  • 29%
    3
    (119 votes)
  • 47%
    2
    (190 votes)
  • 10%
    1
    (42 votes)
  • 3%
    0
    (13 votes)
404 votes total Vote Now