brewers logoThe Cubs just finished up splitting a series against the worst team in baseball, and now they head to Milwaukee to face the surprise best team in baseball, the Brewers. Seems fair.

The Series Preview gives you the rundown on what you need to know for the upcoming series. In that way, it’s kind of a preview. About a series. See how that works?

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs lost the final two games of that four-game series with the Diamondbacks after winning the first two. And, well, I’m pretty sick about it. At 7-14, the Cubs remain the third worst team in baseball, ahead of only those Diamondbacks and the Astros.

The Brewers, as I said, have the best record in baseball, and have won five of six. Before that, they dropped three of four to the Cardinals … but, before that, they won nine in a row. They just freaking keep winning. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but it would be so very Cubs to fail to win a series nearly all month long, and then win the second-to-final series of the month against the best team in baseball.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Friday, April 25 at 7:10 CT on CSN+2 (yeah, that’s a thing).
  • Saturday, April 26 at 6:10 CT on WGN.
  • Sunday, April 27 at 1:10 CT on WGN.

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.

Cubs

Starters: Carlos Villanueva (10.93 ERA, 3.47 FIP; 13.00 K/BB), Travis Wood (2.52 ERA, 2.45 FIP; 7.00 K/BB), Jason Hammel (2.60 ERA, 4.49 FIP; 4.00 K/BB)

Lineup (taking a stab at a more “regular” lineup):

  1. Emilio Bonifacio, CF
  2. Luis Valbuena, 2B
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Nate Schierholtz, RF
  5. Starlin Castro, SS
  6. Mike Olt, 3B
  7. Welington Castillo, C
  8. Ryan Kalish, LF
  9. Pitcher

Brewers

Starters: Matt Garza (4.50 ERA, 3.89 FIP; 2.71 K/BB), Marco Estrada (2.66 ERA, 3.97 FIP; 3.17 K/BB), Wily Peralta (2.19 ERA, 4.46 FIP; 3.17 K/BB)

Lineup:

  1. Carlos Gomez, CF
  2. Scooter Gennett, 2B
  3. Ryan Braun, RF
  4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
  5. Jonathan Lucroy, C
  6. Khris Davis, LF
  7. Mark Reynolds, 1B
  8. Jean Segura, SS
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Anthony Rizzo’s tear continues (and it could be better if a couple of “errors” into which he hit the last week were called hits, which they easily could have been). The 24-year-old first baseman is hitting .316/.424/.487, which is just fantastic. And his walk rate – 14.1% – is now higher than his K rate – 13.0%.

Also sporting a better walk rate than K rate? Luis Valbuena at 23.2%(omglol) and 19.6%, respectively.

The team leader in wOBA, at an unthinkable .589? Yeah, that’d be Travis Wood (and all 8 of his plate appearances).

Emilio Bonifacio has heated back up – .409/.500/.545 in his last six games – and his BABIP has climbed up rapidly alongside it. It currently sits at an unsustainable .414. I point that out not to dump on Bonifacio (he’s having a great year), but instead to remind you that he will regress (or, I guess, he will appear to regress as the numbers, inevitably, regress). Don’t hate on him for his next cold streak, because it might just be balls finding gloves. Because, of the things he can control, he’s been great: walk rate is up, strikeout rate is way down, his line drive rate is solid, he’s playing great defense (at two positions), and he’s had positive value on the basepaths (despite the pickoffs).

Travis Wood has just been stupid good this year, striking out 10.08 per 9, and walking just 1.44. Those are elite numbers right there, if he can sustain them.

Matt Garza is back! Well, in a game involving the Cubs, I mean. In the early going, he’s been a different pitcher for the Brewers than in years past – he’s got an elevated groundball rate, and his strikeout rate is down considerably. He hasn’t walked many, and he’s been stranding a lot of runners.

Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse have been fantastic for the Brewers this year – and the Cubs miss them both in this one. That’s good.

Offensively, the Brewers have been killing it. All of Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, and Jonathan Lucroy (easily the most underrated player in baseball) have wRC+ at 148 or better, and Aramis Ramirez, Scooter Gennett and Lyle Overbay are all above average, too.

Braun, in particular, is doing Braun things – .300/.348/.600.

Not so hot is Jean Segura, who was everyone’s favorite story last year, because he killed it in the first two months of the year. He’s bombed ever since, and he’s hitting just .247/.273/.341 on the season.



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