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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs

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It’s not literally must-win for the Brewers, but it may as well be

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The 2017 season and the Brewers' postseason chances don't all come down to this weekend -- there will be more games played past Sunday, no matter what happens -- but it might feel like it after getting swept in Cincinnati.

Since the last time the Brewers were on the field, the Cubs have won twice, pushing their NL Central lead to 5 games. The Cardinals have also worked their way into a tie for second place in the division. In the wildcard standings, the Rockies managed to beat the Dodgers on Thursday to increase their lead to 3 games in that race.

With eyes on this series, Craig Counsell shuffled his rotation to make sure his three biggest guns were going this weekend. With the offense continuing to struggle, run prevention will end up being just as important in the playoff-like atmosphere.

Probable Pitchers

Friday, 7:05 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Jimmy Nelson vs. John Lackey

Despite an ERA still hovering in the high 4s, the Cubs have been able to win 9 of Lackey's past 10 starts. Really makes you scratch your head. That stretch includes an outing in Milwaukee at the end of July in which he held the Brewers to 2 runs over 6 innings, striking out 7. He's coming off of throwing 7 shutout innings without a walk on September 1st against Atlanta, but had been roughed up in two consecutive starts against Philadelphia and Cincinnati (11 R, 10 ER in 10 innings) before that.

Saturday, 3:05 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Chase Anderson vs. Mike Montgomery

The Brewers look like they might've dodged a bullet in this game, as Montgomery is taking the spot of Jake Arrieta in the rotation. Arrieta left his start on Labor Day after straining his hamstring and is expected to miss 1-2 starts. He had compiled an ERA of 1.98 in 10 starts after the All-Star break, looking like the Cy Young winner of old. In his place, Montgomery jumps back into a starting role, where he's put up a 4.17 ERA in 11 starts (as opposed to a 2.57 ERA out of the bullpen). Montgomery has already appeared in 6 games against the Brewers this year, including one start, allowing 12 runs (11 earned) in 11.1 total innings, giving up 14 hits and 10 walks.

Sunday, 1:20 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Zach Davies vs. Kyle Hendricks

Like Arrieta -- and most of the Cubs, to be frank -- Hendricks has turned it on in the second half, putting up a 2.36 ERA in 9 starts since coming off the DL on July 24th. That run includes a start in Milwaukee on July 29th in which he held the Brewers to 1 run in 5 innings, throwing 60 strikes in 86 pitches. He's coming off a start in which he pitched into the 7th inning against the Pirates, allowing just 2 runs on 5 hits. Depending on how the wind is blowing, with Davies' success on the road, this is looking like another low-scoring game.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference