After starting the season with a series against a non-competitive San Diego team, the Brewers got a bit of a rude awakening when they returned home this week against the St. Louis Cardinals.
St. Louis’ stacked lineup jumped on the Brewers early and often, and if it weren’t for improbable back-to-back homers to win Tuesday night’s game, the local nine would’ve been swept. Now, an equally dangerous lineup comes to town in the form of the Chicago Cubs -- and they’re bringing better pitching than the Cardinals did.
But despite the expectation that they’d run away with the NL Central, the Cubs are again finding themselves in the middle of a bit of a slow start. Chicago opened the season with what can only be considered (for them) a disappointing four-game split with the lowly Miami Marlins. They were then shutout 1-0 by the Cincinnati Reds, a team we probably wouldn’t associate with great pitching. That game ended with Anthony Rizzo striking out with the bases loaded.
When you factor in that loss, their rainout on Tuesday, and the 6-0 loss they had in the series finale in Miami, the Cubs haven’t scored since Saturday. That could either be good for a Brewers starting rotation that could use some good fortune, or it could mean the Cubs are due for a breakout. They’ve scored 18 total runs in their 2 wins and 1 total run in their 3 losses so far this year.
Thursday - 7:10 p.m. CDT
Jon Lester vs. Brent Suter
Friday - 7:10 p.m. CDT
Kyle Hendricks vs. Brandon Woodruff
Saturday - 3:05 p.m. CDT
Yu Darvish vs. Zach Davies
Sunday - 1:10 p.m. CDT
Jose Quintana vs. Chase Anderson
Lester, Darvish and Quintana were all Opening Day starters last year, and now the Brewers get to face all three in one series. It may not be as bad as it sounds -- all three are coming off disappointing first starts to the season.
Lester only went 3.1 innings on Opening Day, giving up 7 hits and 3 walks, allowing 4 runs (3 earned). Darvish went 4.1 innings in his Cubs debut, giving up 5 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. Quintana was at least able to go 6 innings, but gave up 6 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks while he was doing it.
Hendricks is the only one of the bunch who had a good outing the first time through the rotation. He was able to hold the Marlins to 1 run over 6 innings, but the problem for Chicago was they played 11 more innings after that and ended up losing 2-1.
The Cubs are a lot better than they’ve played so far, and the Brewers’ current strategy of trying to win every game as late as possible probably won’t work against the team with the game’s most effective bullpen through the season’s first week. They’ll need some stronger starting pitching performances to have a chance at splitting these four games, let alone win the series.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference