… And the Cubs never lost again.
I joke, of course, but I have to imagine we all feel a whole lot better after that three-game sweep over the Reds at Wrigley Field, right? While the Cubs pitching staff did allow five (windy) runs per game, the offense scored 25 runs of their own, and it was very nice to see.
Now, they’ll continue the home stand with three more games against the, well, first-place Milwaukee Brewers (yeah, that’s a thing). And after that, they’ll have four against the Giants at Wrigley (I’ll be in the bleachers for Wednesday night’s game), before heading out west to take on the Dodgers and Padres for three each. There’s a lot more baseball to be played, so let’s hope they keep up the pace.
We’re Going Streaking
The Chicago Cubs (21-19) are back up over .500 (by two games, no less!), though they are in third place of the NL Central. The first-place Brewers are coming to town, though, so this weekend’s contest could shift the standings quite a bit.
The Milwaukee Brewers (24-18) are a solid six games over .500 and in first place of the NL Central. They just wrapped up a sweep of their own against the Padres yesterday, and are red hot. We’ll get into some of the individual performances down below, but suffice it to say they’re playing pretty well.
Location: Wrigley Field
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Friday, May 19 at 1:20 CT on CSN-C, MLBN 670 The Score
- Saturday, May 20 at 1:20 CT on CSN-C, MLBN 670 The Score
- Sunday, May 21 at 1:20 CT on WGN, MLBN 670 The Score
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 Lineup or Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.
- Eddie Butler (0.00 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 4.56 xFIP; 1.67 K/BB)
- Jake Arrieta (5.44 ERA, 4.18 FIP, 3.74 xFIP; 3.77 K/BB)
- John Lackey (3.45, 3.66 FIP, 3.59 xFIP; 3.64 K/BB)
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ben Zobrist, RF
- Addison Russell, SS
- Willson Contreras, C
- Javy Baez, 2B
- Albert Almora, CF
Once again, working in Ian Happ and potentially even Jason Heyward (if he’s back) makes this weekends lineup a moving target. We’ll have to wait and see what moves, if any, the Cubs make.
- Paolo Espino (No Major League Stats)
- Chase Anderson (3.43 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 4.44 xFIP; 2.44 K/BB)
- Jimmy Nelson (3.86 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 4.06 xFIP; 2.73 K/BB)
- Jonathan Villar, 2B
- Eric Thames, 1B
- Ryan Braun, LF
- Travis Shaw, 3B
- Domingo Santana, RF
- Keon Broxton, CF
- Jett Bandy, C
- Orlando Arcia, SS
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
Chicago Cubs – Pitching
The Cubs’ closer, Wade Davis, has yet to surrender a single earned run this season. And while he’s joined in the 2017 0.00 ERA club by the Indians’ Nick Goody, Goody has done it in two fewer innings overall.
If you recall, Davis started the 2015 season with 22.0 consecutive scoreless innings (14th best start for a reliever ever), so that’ll be his near-term target. And that’s only because the record, if you’re wondering, is a lofty 38 consecutive scoreless innings to start the year from Brad Ziegler back in 2008. So, yeah. Let’s just see if Davis can keep it up through the weekend, and we’ll take it from there.
The other big story for this weekend will be Eddie Butler’s second start with the Cubs. We’ll get into his numbers more later (and we already have covered his first start quite a bit)
Chicago Cubs – Offense
Before his 3-3, HR, BB performance against the Reds yesterday, Javy Baez had gone through a bit of a cold stretch at the plate (1-18). He had actually started to heat up quite a bit right before that though, so we’ll see if yesterday’s success gets him back on track.
For a hitter like Javy, streakiness may always be a part of his game, which means, how quickly he bounces back from the cold streaks will be the true measure of his continued development.
Through his last 25 plate appearances, Willson Contreras is slashing .304/.360/.652 (161 wRC+). He’s going to hit consistently at some point in his career, he’s too good not to, but we just have to be patient. This is his first full Major League season, after all.
Milwaukee Brewers – Pitching
While Wade Davis does technically lead the league in ERA, he’s not been the most valuable reliever in baseball. In fact, his 0.9 fWAR is sixth best in MLB, behind a number of relievers (well, five, to be precise), including the Brewers own Corey Knebel.
After posting a 4.68 ERA through 32.2 innings all of last season, Knebel has allowed just a 0.82 ERA through 22.2 innings of relief in 2017. His walk rate is still really high (13.8%), but his strikeout rate is an utterly dominant 43.7%. Combined with a .149 average against and you can see how he’s worked his way out of a lot of trouble (91.7% strand rate) this year.
Hopefully, when the Cubs meet him over the weekend, their patient ways can put pressure on that walk rate and create some runs.
Milwaukee Brewers – Offense
Eric Thames is just 1 for his last 11, but has added four walks during that stretch, too. On the season, his numbers are still really strong: .313/.432/.688, but they’re starting to come back down to Earth … a little.
Ryan Bran, meanwhile, is still hitting a nice .287/.374/.574 with seven homers of his own. Here’s your reminder that, against the Cubs, Braun is slashing .339/.413/.594 with 31 home runs for his career.
A win today would be four in a row for the Cubs and bring them within just one game of regaining their rightful position in first place of the NL Central. Let’s see if they’ll keep the momentum moving. Go Cubs.