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Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers preview, Friday 7/24, 6:10 CT

Here we go with one of the most unusual seasons in baseball history.

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Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

What a beautiful Friday night for a ballgame! Temperatures in the 70s, low humidity, clear skies... a great night to be at the ballpark!

Oh. Right. I’m not going to be at the ballpark, and neither are any other fans, likely not anytime this year, probably. A couple hundred will populate rooftops across the street from Wrigley Field, but that’s not really being “at” the ballpark, in my view.

For me, I am not considering my personal streak of consecutive games attended at Wrigley Field broken, since fans aren’t permitted in ballparks. That streak currently stands at 230. When I can next go to a game, my streak will resume.

Meanwhile, baseball-wise, we will witness the first game managed by Cubs fan favorite David Ross, who most of us assumed would eventually manage the team once Joe Maddon was gone. I didn’t think it would be this soon, but Ross seems to be the right guy not just for the team in general, but for this specific time in human history given the pandemic, as Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma wrote in The Athletic:

“What the players are having to do is extremely hard,” Ross said. “It’s mentally taxing. You’re always worried about being too close to somebody. You’re always worried about your mask. It’s hot out there to wear a mask. And then you get test day coming up when you might get results. It’s a little bit of that unknown, a little bit of anxiety. Have I done everything right? You start running back since you’ve been tested, what you’ve done, where you’ve gone, who you’ve been in contact with, just in case something bad may come back on your test.”

Ross is essentially the spokesman for a multibillion-dollar corporation during the daily Zoom briefings with the Chicago media. Ross is the supervisor charged with enforcing the health and safety protocols within MLB’s 101-page operations manual. Ross is the head cheerleader during pandemic training camp and the narrator for the team’s “Eve of Baseball” hype video. He’s also the manager of a baseball team.

“David’s strengths are bringing people together,” hitting coach Anthony Iapoce said. “What else is there to do here?”

Ross seems to have embraced everything needed to put together a winning ballclub in the face of the pandemic. We hope everyone in baseball stays safe and healthy this year.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Brewers lineup:

Kyle Hendricks, RHP vs. Brandon Woodruff, RHP

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Hendricks allowed two or fewer runs in 18 of his 30 starts in 2019, but had a few blips that had him wind up with an ERA in the mid-threes, second-highest in his career. He pitched well enough in spring training (nine innings, one run, one walk, eight strikeouts) to earn this year’s Opening Day start.

Hendricks made two starts vs. the Brewers last year. One was good; the other, not so much. Kyle had extreme home/road splits in 2019, just as many of the Cubs did. He had a 2.04 ERA and 0.874 WHIP in 14 starts at Wrigley Field, but a 5.02 ERA and 1.411 WHIP in 16 road outings. Why this was, no one seems to know. Hopefully, starting at home, even without fans in the stands, will help him.

Brandon Woodruff has quietly become one of the better starters in the league. He missed some time in 2019 with an oblique injury, but is 100 percent now. He had an excellent SO/9 ratio (10.6 per nine innings) and walk ratio (2.2 per nine). The Cubs knocked him out after four innings in the only start he made against them last year, April 5 in Milwaukee. (Of all people, Daniel Descalso homered off him that day.)

Woodruff throws hard. His fastball, which he relies on almost two-thirds of the time, averaged 96.3 miles per hour last year. Since he largely throws strikes, perhaps Cubs hitters can sit on that fastball.

Today’s game is on Marquee Sports Network, its regular season premiere. Here is a list of providers currently carrying Marquee. It’s also on ESPN (outside the Cubs market territory). I cannot emphasize this enough: If you are in the Cubs market territory, the ESPN broadcast will be blacked out.

The Cubs market territory consists of Illinois, Iowa and parts of Indiana and Wisconsin, per this map:

mlb territorial map

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Brewers site Brew Crew Ball. If you do go there to interact with Brewers fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

The 2020 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used in previous years. Here’s how it works.

You’ll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).

At the same time, a StoryStream containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream “Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads” so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap in the box marked “Chicago Cubs Game Threads” at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in the game’s StoryStream as noted above.

The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.