Now that the Cubs have beaten the White Sox for the Crosstown Cup, they’re turning their attention to the
first place Milwaukee Brewers.
And because both teams have the same number of wins, while the Cubs have three fewer loses, the worst case scenario weekend would leave the Cubs just a game and half out of first, and tied in the loss column. Hopefully, after tonight, we don’t even have to think about it.
Following the Brewers series is an off-day on Monday, and then six straight tough home games against the Diamondbacks and Nationals. Given how good both of those teams are, the Cubs would do well to bank some wins this weekend.
We’re Going Streaking
The Chicago Cubs (54-47) have gone 11-2 in the second half of the season, rising to a year-long-high of seven games over .500. Since we’re counting the Crosstown Cup as one long four-gamer, the Cubs have now won each of their first four series in the second half.
The Milwaukee Brewers (54-50) won their first two games of the second half and then went on a six-game losing streak. Since that losing streak, they’ve gone 2-3 against the Phillies and Nationals entering into tonight.
Game Times and Broadcasts
Location: Wrigley Field North
- Friday, July 28 at 7:10 CT on CSN-C+, 670 The Score
- Saturday, July 29 at 6:10 CT on WGN, 670 The Score
- Sunday, July 30 at 1:10 CT on CSN-C, TBS, 670 The Score
Expected Starters and Lineups
These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Lineup or Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.
- Jose Quintana (4.22 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 3.91 xFIP; 3.05 K/BB)
- Kyle Hendricks (3.95 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 3.91 xFIP; 2.67 K/BB)
- John Lackey (4.97 ERA, 5.67 FIP, 4.71 xFIP; 2.71 K/BB)
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Ian Happ, CF
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Addison Russell, SS
* After a couple of days off, I’d expect Javy Baez to re-enter the lineup at some point this weekend.
- Brent Suter (2.84 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 3.98 xFIP; 3.20 K/BB)
- Junior Guerra (5.22 ERA, 7.12 FIP, 5.92 xFIP; 1.31 K/BB)
- Davies (4.45 ERA, 4.74 FIP, 4.64 xFIP; 2.05 K/BB)
- Eric Sogard, 2B
- Eric Thames, 1B
- Domingo Santana, RF
- Ryan Braun, LF
- Travis Shaw, 3B
- Manny Pina, C
- Lewis Brinson, CF
- Orlando Arcia, SS
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
Chicago Cubs – Pitching
John Lackey’s ERA has moved under 5.00 after three consecutive, usable starts against the Rays, Braves, and White Sox. And even though he did have a clunker against the Nationals just before this stretch, he preceded that with two 6.0 IP, 1 ER outings against the Pirates and Marlins.
One big concern of his, however, is that over this recent three-game stretch of success, Lackey’s only recorded nine strikeouts (12.9 K%). You don’t need to have an elite strikeout rate to be successful, but it absolutely has to be higher than 12.9 K%.
Chicago Cubs – Offense
Even after an 0-4 effort last night, Addison Russell is having a nice second half of the season. In just under 50 plate appearances so far, he’s slashing .304/.333/.630 which is good for a 136 wRC+.
We’ll talk about Kyle Schwarber’s big night and season later.
Willson Contreras’ hot streak continues. He’s riding a four-game hit streak, which features six hits and two homers.
In the month of July, Willson Contreras is hitting .351/.415/.689 with seven long balls. Holy Crap. pic.twitter.com/80K9jgjH2F
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) July 28, 2017
Milwaukee Brewers – Pitching
In the second half of the season, the Brewers starting rotation has had the 11th best ERA (4.42) , but the seventh worst FIP (5.19).
Tomorrow’s starter, Junior Guerra, hasn’t gotten out of the sixth inning in any of his last five starts and has thrown four or fewer innings in four of those five starts. During that stretch he has a 9.00 ERA and a 9.06 FIP. While he’s walking a 12.6% of the batters during that stretch, his real weakness may be the .295 batting average against, and the fact that lefties and righties are both handling him easily.
Hopefully, the Cubs take advantage.
Milwaukee Brewers – Offense
Ryan Braun’s season numbers are down a bit this year (123 wRC+ in 2017, versus 141 for his career), but he’s been consistent and above average. In the second half of the season, he’s slashing .286/.359/.514 despite just a .296 BABIP.
Considering he’s a .332 career BABIP guy, I’d say he’s probably due for a bit of good luck. Joy.
Eric Thames season slash line (.252/.370/.541) still makes him a well above average offensive contributor, but shoddy defense at first base has dragged down his overall value to just 1.7 WAR. Also, since his scorching hot first month of the season, he’s hitting just .218/.335/.444 (98 wRC+). So, yeah, turns out he may have been a pumpkin.