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Series Preview: Chicago Cubs @ Milwaukee Brewers

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Understatement: this weekend is kind of a big deal.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, the Brewers have lost the division lead. Yes, they now trail the Chicago Cubs by 1.5 games. Yes, they're 2-8 in their past 10 games.

But head-to-head series are opportunities. If the Brewers win 2 of 3 this weekend against Chicago, they'll cut a game off that lead. If they sweep, they flip the script on the Cubs. Yeah, it's unlikely. But it's possible.

Previous Series

The Brewers beat the Cubs 11-2 as part of a 9-2 run to close out the first half of the season before the All-Star break. That was only 3 weeks ago! And they did it with the same players as they have now! That's pretty cool. That was a make-up game for the Rainout With No Rain in May. The Brewers and Cubs split the other two games that weekend, meaning the Brewers technically won (the best kind of winning) the series with the game earlier this month.

Probable Pitchers

Friday, 7:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Jose Quintana vs. Brent Suter

In two starts since going across town from the White Sox to the Cubs, Quintana has allowed just 3 runs in 13 innings, striking out 19 and walking 2. He was electric in his first start, collecting 12 of those strikeouts in 7 innings against the Orioles. He faced an actual major league team in his second start, though, allowing 3 runs in 6 innings against the Cardinals on July 23rd, with 5 hits and 2 walks. Quintana can definitely be a front-end starter when he's on, but there's a reason why he has an overall ERA of 4.22 this year -- he can be inconsistent and has already surrendered 16 home runs this year. He's probably not going to keep up a 13.2 K/9 over the rest of the second half. Probably.

Saturday, 6:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Kyle Hendricks vs. Junior Guerra

This will be the third time the Brewers see Hendricks this year, and they've hit well against him thus far, tagging him for 8 runs on 9 hits (4 of them home runs) and 5 walks in 11 innings. After that second start, Hendricks' ERA for the season was at 6.19. Since then, he's settled back down with a 3.24 ERA in his past 9 starts. He did miss most of June and July due to injury, but returned on Monday, only making it through 4.1 innings after allowing 8 hits but escaping with just 1 run allowed.

Sunday, 1:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - John Lackey vs. Zach Davies

Lackey has a 4.97 ERA this year in 19 starts, but his FIP says he's been much worse than that (5.67). He's given up a league-leading 25 home runs to this point, so many that it's a wonder he still has hair after all the head-scratching. Lackey is basically the reason why the Cubs are still toying with the idea of Sonny Gray, Yu Darvish and any other starter still available on the trade market. Also a fantastic team player, John Lackey declared last week that if he isn't starting, he's quitting. With that in mind, the Brewers might have a chance to usher him into retirement.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference