Series Preview: Cubs at Brewers, April 5 - April 8, 2018

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Series Preview: Cubs at Brewers, April 5 – April 8, 2018

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are heading to Milwaukee in the first “big” series of the year.

Of course, I put “big” in quotes, because while a four-game set against (arguably) the biggest competitors in the NL Central is important, it’s still very early in the season. But hey, let’s just say I’m not complaining that the front four of the Cubs rotation is perfectly lined up, and the bullpen is well-rested for the weekend.

Like we said before the Marlins series, it’s very difficult to win (let alone sweep) a four-game set, especially when it’s on the road and against a rival. If the Cubs wound up with a split, they’ll be just fine. If they win the series, that’d be awesome. If they lose, they’ll recover.

We’ll leave the discussion for best and worst case scenarios if and when they happen.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (2-3) have a losing record after five games against two of the worst teams in baseball. Worse, they were shut out in each of their last two contests, and were forced to sit with that as a rainout (Tuesday) and an off-day (Wednesday) took them off the field.

The Milwaukee Brewers (4-2) got off to a good start with a sweep against the Padres, but actually lost two out of three in St. Louis. In fact they were nearly swept, but managed to string back-to-back two-out, ninth-inning home runs on Tuesday for the win.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

  • Thursday, April 5 at 7:10 CT on NBC Sports Chicago, 670 The Score
  • Friday, April 6 at 7:10 on NBC Sports Chicago, 670 The Score
  • Saturday, April 7 at 3:05 on ABC-7, Fox Deportes, 670 The Score
  • Sunday April 8 at 1:10 on WGN, 670 The Score

Chicago Cubs

Probable Pitchers:

  • Jon Lester (8.10 ERA, 4.52 FIP; 0.67 K/BB)
  • Kyle Hendricks (1.50 ERA, 3.30 FIP; 1.67 K/BB)
  • Yu Darvish (10.38 ERA, 6.89 FIP; 2.00 K/BB)
  • Jose Quintana (9.00 ERA, 4.30 FIP; 0.50 K/BB)

Active Depth Chart:

  • C – Willson Contreras
  • 1B – Anthony Rizzo
  • 2B – Javy Baez/Ben Zobrist
  • 3B – Kris Bryant
  • SS – Addison Russell
  • LF – Kyle Schwarber
  • CF – Ian Happ/Albert Almora
  • RF – Jason Heyward

Milwaukee Brewers

Probable Pitchers:

  • Brent Suter (5.40 ERA, 4.56 FIP; 4.00 K/BB)
  • Brandon Woodruff (5.40 ERA, 5.06 FIP; 3.00 K/BB)
  • Zach Davies (9.53 ERA, 3.67 FIP; 6.00 K/BB)
  • Chase Anderson (3.60 ERA, 5.86 FIP; 3.67 K/BB)

Active Depth Chart:

  • C – Manny Pina
  • 1B – Eric Thames/Jesus Aguilar
  • 2B – Eric Sogard
  • 3B – Travis Shaw
  • SS – Orlando Arcia
  • LF – Ryan Braun*
  • CF – Lorenzo Cain
  • RF – Domingo Santana

*Christian Yelich will be out, at a minimum, for tonight’s game, which means we’ll probably see Braun in left and one of Eric Thames or Jesus Aguilar at first.

Keep an Eye Out For …

Cubs Pitcher: Justin Wilson has gotten his 2018 season off to a nice start with a 0.00 ERA and a 1.87 FIP through his first 3.2 innings of the season. Better, after walking two batters during his second appearance of the season, he bounced right back with a 2K, 0BB inning against the Reds. With five strikeouts already, and the command looking better than 2017, the Cubs’ bullpen seems to be in very good shape with Wilson near the back. Remember, the Cubs are planning to use closer Brandon Morrow sparingly in the early-parts of the season. Having Wilson (and his closer experience) readily available and productive could be huge.

Cubs Player: Jason Heyward doesn’t have much to show for his at-bats in the early going (.235/.263/.294), BUT he has been crushing the ball. His 53.9% hard-hit rate is the 19th highest in all of Major League Baseball – ahead of guys like J.D. Martinez, Miguel Sano, and Carlos Correa – and his ground ball rate is at an excellent 38.5%. If he keeps hitting the ball hard and in the air, he’s going to have a bounce back season. And with the Cubs scheduled to face just one lefty in the series (tonight), he should have the advantage the rest of the weekend.

Brewers Pitcher: Zach Davies had an interesting first start against the Cardinals last week. On the one hand, he struck out six batters and walked none, but on the other hand, he got just a 25% ground ball rate and allowed a 58.8% hard-hit rate. The well-struck fly balls ultimately did him in, as Davies allowed seven runs (six earned) on eight hits, including a homer. Hopefully, the Cubs can do the same sort of damage, while taking a few more free passes.

Brewers PlayerLorenzo Cain is off to a roaring start for the Brewers, slashing .360/.429/.600, with a homer, two doubles, four RBI, and three stolen bases in just six games! For his career, Cain has fared much better against lefties (126 wRC+) than righties (101 wRC+), and he’ll get two of them this weekend (Lester and Quintana). Obviously, Lester and Quintana are quite good, themselves, but facing a hot hitter with a strong platoon is never fun. We’ll see how it goes.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami