Game Times, Promotions and Broadcast Information:
Thursday: 7:10p on FSWI and 620 WTMJ – SSH Appreciation Day
Friday: 7:10p on FSWI and 620 WTMJ – Student Night
Saturday: 3:05p on FS1 and 620 WTMJ – WI Dells Coupon Giveaway
Sunday: 1:10p on FSWI and 620 WTMJ – Kids Ice Cream Sunday
All statistics from the 2017 season.
Thursday: Brent Suter (3.42 ERA, 81.2 IP, 18.8 K%) v. Jon Lester (4.33 ERA, 180.2 IP, 23.6 K%)
If there´s a unit that expresses where the Cubs are and how far the Brewers are from where they want to be, it´s the starting pitching, and hoo boy is it on display in this series. Lester has been one of the best pitchers in the league for a solid decade. He´s 34 and is at the back end of his career, but the Cubs continue to think highly enough of him to make him the Opening Day starter of their loaded rotation. Suter is a 28-year-old with just over 100 career innings to his name. He allowed three runs over five innings in his season debut Saturday.
Friday: Brandon Woodruff (4.81 ERA, 43.0 IP, 17.4 K%) v. Kyle Hendricks (3.02 ERA, 139.2 IP, 21.6 K%)
Woodruff broke camp in the bullpen, but the plan was always to use him as the No. 5 starter when one was needed, and the time has come. He was outpitched in Spring Training by both Wade Miley and Junior Guerra, the two other competitors for the spot, but Miley hurt himself in his final Spring Training outing and the Brewers dug up a fourth option for Guerra in order to stash him in the minors. The Brewers are set on developing Woodruff as a starter in the major leagues; he has two multi-inning relief appearances this season, allowing a run in each.
Hendricks is making his ninth career start in Miller Park, where he is 4-1 with a 2.31 ERA. He allowed one run on four hits over six innings in his season debut against Miami.
Saturday: Zach Davies (3.90 ERA, 191.1 IP, 15.2 K%) v. Yu Darvish (With TEX and LAD: 3.86 ERA, 186.2 IP, 27.3 K%)
Darvish, Chicago´s major off-season acquisition, will be making his first career start at Miller Park, and his second start as a member of the Cubs. He has a four pitch repertoire with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and a mid-80s slider that sweeps across the zone for a strikeout pitch. He was hit hard in his debut, allowing five runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts over 4.1 innings in a 10-6 win for the Cubs.
Speaking of getting hit hard in season debuts, Davies was victimized by the Cardinals on Monday as the Redbirds ruined Opening Day for the Brewers, allowing seven runs (six earned) over 5.2 innings. Kris Bryant owns him, with a .393 batting average and five dingers in 28 at bats.
Sunday: Chase Anderson (2.74 ERA, 141.1 IP, 23.4 K%) v. Jose Quintana (With CHW and CHC: 4.15 ERA, 188.2 IP, 26.2 K%)
Another foreign pitcher who the Cubs acquired despite reports that the Brewers were pursuing him, Quintana will be making his fifth career start against Milwaukee. He has absolutely destroyed the Brewers over his career, allowing three runs on five hits and striking out 30 over 30 innings. Quintana and Lorenzo Cain are very familiar with each other, with the latter hitting .273 against the former in 55 at bats.
Anderson has had one good and one bad outing this year, tossing six scoreless innings against the Padres on Opening Day and allowing four runs over four innings against the Cardinals before Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun´s theatrics on Tuesday. Anderson´s velocity is way down from the last two seasons, when a spike resulted in a major boost in results; it remains to be seen if the issue is temporary or if Anderson will need to find a way to make lesser stuff play up to match last year´s success.
Are the Cubs good?
That depends on how you define ¨good.¨ If we´re talking about their talents on the baseball field, then yes; they´re still clearly the class of the division, though if the Cardinals performance against the Brewers this week is any indication, then St. Louis is hot on their heels.
If by ¨good¨ you refer to some sort of moral alignment, a statement about the innate wholesomeness, or lack thereof, of a group of individuals, then that is hard to say. I´ve never met any of the Cubs players individually, though one can gather from their public statements and endorsements the sort of things they might value. Is there any such thing as Good and Evil? Can anyone truly be defined by either pole, or is morality more of a spectrum upon which it is human nature to drift this way and that based upon the vagaries of life? Who can make such judgments except God, and maybe Rihanna?
How about all these exciting wins!
Look, it´s great fun. A walk-off — and it´s underappreciated brother, the last inning road win — is a super great time for fans. Still, it´s not a sound strategy for producing repeatable successful results, and of the Brewers four wins this season, three have come in dramatic fashion where the chances of winning ranged between coin flip and nigh impossibility.
These moments have been made possible by a Brewers bullpen that has sealed the door tight in each of Milwaukee´s first six games, allowing time for the offense to climb out of the holes dug by the starting rotation. The bullpen has surrendered only four runs over 27.1 innings, walking nine and striking out 27; take away Woodruff, who returns to the rotation now, and you can cut the runs in half. The early star, to no one´s surprise, has been Josh Hader, who has allowed only two base runners in three innings while striking out seven and has become Craig Counsell´s go-to fireman.
If you´d like to see the only bullpen with a lower ERA than Milwaukee´s, well you´re in luck, my friend, because they´re coming to town tonight. Only Eddie Butler and Carl Edwards Jr. have been scored upon this season, once each, though you can probably pin the latter´s run at least partially on Pedro Strop.
If the Cubs were a WWE wrestler, which one would they be?
The Cubs would be JBL.
It took a looooong time for JBL to finally win gold. Similarly, after years and years of losing and failure to win a championship, the Cubs laid low for a little while, rebranded as a billionaire, kinda racist heel and immediately won a title. Now that they’ve lost their championship, all they do is talk, and no one can stand it.
Who´s hot, who´s not:
HOT: Kris Bryant, 3B
No, this isn´t a joke about Sparkle Jesus´ handsomeness, though it very much applies. Bryant is off to another MVP-caliber start, hitting a blazing .333/.481/.619 through 27 plate appearances.
HOT: Christian Yelich, OF and Lorenzo Cain, OF
The Brewers forever-linked pair of new outfielders have not required any sort of adjustment period in their new digs, as they have combined for 19 hits and 10 runs at the top of the Brewers batting order. They´ve a home run each to their name, with Yelich´s coming in memorable fashion during Milwaukee´s walk-off win over St. Louis. Of course, since we can´t have nice things, Yelich is on the shelf with an oblique injury of unknown severity.
NOT: Anthony Rizzo, 1B and Ian Happ, OF
Bryant´s co-worker at Bryzzo Corp. is off to another slow start this season after limping through April last year as well. He´s got just three hits in 23 tries, though one of them was a home run.
Happ led off the season in legendary fashion, blasting the first pitch of the 2018 season for a long home run. He hasn´t done much of anything since, collecting just one hit in 15 at bats, striking out 10 times.
NOT: Orlando Arcia, OF
The Brewers young shortstop has struggled in the early going, with three singles in 17 PA. Like his partner in 3-for-17 crime, Ryan Braun, at least he´s making the most of his successes: Arcia´s single in the 12th drove in the winning run against San Diego on Opening Day.
We have to take back our park!
No, we don´t. Look, the Cubs are going to win here. They always do; they were a .700 team in Miller Park a year ago. When they do, you´re going to be miserable, because we´re losing to the Cubs, and they´re ding dong fans are going to be obnoxious about it at literally every possible opportunity. It makes them so happy to take over Miller Park when and literally only when the Cubs are good; you don´t have to put up with it. You can just stay home. We can take their money.
So anyway, I´ll be at all four games. See you at the park.