The Cubs apparently won the World Series last year. A lot of people don’t know about that because the media rarely talks about it. But that’s why we do these previews, to bring you useful pieces of information.
Chicago comes to town on the heels of a series win against the St. Louis Cardinals to open the year. After losing on Opening Day, the Cubs won the next two thanks to some solid pitching and Yadi Molina’s chest protector.
The Cubs, as you may know, have a pretty good lineup. Kyle Schwarber keyed Thursday’s win with a three-run bomb, but reigning MVP Kris Bryant is 0-for-13 to start the season. Maybe someday he’ll be as good as Mark Reynolds.
Friday, 7:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Brett Anderson vs. Jimmy Nelson
Anderson makes his Cubs debut, while Nelson gets his first start of the season for the Crew.
Anderson has typically been good during his career -- when he's been healthy. The lefty made only pitched in 4 games last year, throwing 11.1 pretty disastrous innings for the Dodgers. In his last full season (2015), he made 31 starts for LA, putting up a 3.69 ERA (3.94 FIP) and a perfectly average 100 ERA+.
The injuries have taken their toll and he's no longer a strikeout guy (he never was, to be totally honest), but the Brewers could probably change that for at least one start.
Saturday, 6:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin/MLB Network - Kyle Hendricks vs. Tommy Milone
Hendricks was the surprise of baseball last season, winning the ERA crown with a ridiculous 2.13 mark that was probably a run lower than it should've been (his FIP was 3.20), but he was still a very good pitcher in 2016. The low ERA and plenty of run support from the Cubs' offense helped him to a Top-3 Cy Young finish.
Much of Hendricks' success came as a result of his changeup, which he threw 27% of the time in 2016. In addition to solid strikeout rates, Hendricks also walks few, and just allows few baserunners in general. The Brewers may find it difficult to score runs Saturday night, which probably isn't great news, considering Milone is making a spot start for the injured Junior Guerra.
Sunday, 1:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin/Telemundo - Jake Arrieta vs. Zach Davies
Arrieta came back to earth a little bit in 2016, posting an ERA of 3.10 (3.52 FIP) a year after he was 2015's version of Hendricks with a 1.77 ERA (2.35 FIP).
Arrieta's first start of the year was a good one, going 6 innings against St. Louis on Tuesday, allowing 1 unearned run on 4 hits and 2 walks with 6 strikeouts. The Brewers actually hit him better than most last year, scoring 10 runs in 16.2 innings against him for a 4.86 ERA. Despite that, the Cubs still won 2 of those 3 games.
Overall, the Brewers went 8-11 against the Cubs last year, but kept the run differential against the eventual champs close, scoring 75 to Chicago’s 79. Six of their 19 games last year were decided by 1 run.