Well, it's not over but it's over. There are 3 games left in 2014 but they're pretty meaningless. The only thing left that really matters now are the overall standings with regards to next year's draft. The Brewers are currently in a tie with Toronto for the 14th best record in baseball. They could possibly advance all the 11th best record or fall just one spot to the 15th best record. So we're looking at a draft position next year between 15th overall and 19th overall.
Anyway, the Cubs suck but they don't suck. In the last 30 days their offense has been a good deal better than the Brewers. Of course there are only two clubs who can't say that. Luis Valbuena (165 wRC+) and Jorge Soler (179 wRC+) have been particularly effective. Anthony Rizzo (190 wRC+) has come back nicely from a minor injury. Javier Baez (23 wRC+) and Arismendy Alcantara (49 wRC+) have fallen on hard times though.
The Cubs have gotten a lot of value out of their bullpen this year. Brian Schlitter appears to be the only member of the pen to get significant innings that wasn't very good. Hector Rondon, Neil Ramirez, and Pedro Strop look like terrific acquisitions and two guys the Brewers will learn to hate over the next few years.
Friday, September 26th - 7:10 pm CT: Jimmy Nelson vs Eric Jokisch
Well, I know very little about Eric Jokish. He was drafted in the 11th round of the 2010 draft. He's moved a bit slowly, but steadily through the Cubs minor league system with pretty solid peripherals. He throws a four seamer, two seamer, change up, and to a lesser degree a slider and a change up. His average fast ball velocity sits around 89 mph. He's thrown 10 innings at the major league level, all out of the bullpen. In those 10 innings he's induced a 55.3 GB%. Brewers seem to struggle against these types.
Of note for the Brewers: Matt Garza was scheduled to make this start, but was pulled due to shoulder stiffness. I guess it's a good time in the season for that to happen. In his place is rookie Jimmy Nelson. I'm bummed Garza has a bum shoulder, but I am glad we get to see one more start from Nelson. However, he hasn't pitched much since being removed from the rotation, so it's likely he'll be on a pitch limit. Maybe 75 pitches?
Saturday, September 27th - 6:10 pm CT: Wily Peralta vs Tsuyoshi Wada
Wada has been pretty solid for the Cubs in 12 starts. His peripherals are close to league average across the board which suggests his 3.22 ERA is unsustainable. His 3.67 FIP, 3.94 xFIP, and 3.86 SIERA agree. He has a rather poor GB/FB ratio so maybe the Brewers can tag him with some home runs. They faced him once before, only getting 2 runs in 6.2 innings.
Sunday, September 28th - 1:10 pm CT: Mike Fiers vs Kyle Hendricks
Kyle Hendricks has Cubs fans excited and for good reason. He's accrued a 2.46 ERA in 80 innings of work across 13 starts. Even FIP (3.32) believes he's pretty good. xFIP (3.92) and SIERA (4.02) are less optimistic. He hasn't struck guys out and doesn't have a strong ground ball rate. So it's likely his 0.45 HR/9 is going to spike in a full season. That'll probably bring his ERA a lot closer to that xFIP. Brewers have faced him twice before. The first time he held them scoreless through 7.1 IP. The second time the Brewers scored 2 runs in 5.2 inning.
Well, there's not much riding on this series. I wouldn't be surprised to see Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Braun take a seat for a game each. Perhaps Jason Rogers will get a start at third base. Maybe we'll even see an inning or two out of Wei-Chung Wang. I mean, why not? It doesn't really matter one way or another.
The first two Cubs pitchers are lefties, so we'll see two more starts by Rickie Weeks. They'll be his last as a Brewer. I'll be sad to see him go, though even I wouldn't want to pay him anything significant to play for them next year. Honestly, probably the only reason I'm going to watch these games is because it's the last time I'll get to see Weeks in a Brewers uniform.
I have no idea who will win this series and quite frankly I don't even care. There isn't much difference between the 15th pick and the 19th pick in next year's draft so the outcome of this series doesn't mean anything to me. Although I suppose when we look back at the season record, when we can divorce our emotions from the outcome, 84 wins would look a lot better than 81.
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