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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs

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The Brewers have another chance to inch closer in the NL Central race — or take the lead altogether — as the Cubs are in the middle of a 30-game stretch with no off days

Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

You’ll have to excuse the Milwaukee Brewers if they don’t feel terribly sorry for the Chicago Cubs.

The iffy-at-best handling by the league and the Washington Nationals of the weather situation in the DC area over the weekend meant multiple false starts, a late-night finish to a doubleheader, and the Cubs losing one of their precious few off-days left. They’re supposed to play their series finale against Washington after this series on Thursday now — right about the time a tropical storm could be headed for the Mid-Atlantic.

The Cubs haven’t had an off-day since August 20th, and will have games scheduled for 30 straight days before their next (and final) off-day on September 20th. The Brewers went through a similar — while admittedly slightly shorter — stretch to end the first half of the season, and the Cubs are starting to look as sluggish as the Brewers did at the end of that stretch. They’ve lost 4 of their last 6, including the series last week in Miller Park, allowing the Brewers to get within sweeping distance of being in first place. With no days off for another 10 days, Joe Maddon will likely be forced to make some tough decisions when it comes to giving key players days off in the next week.

Probable Pitchers

Monday - 7:05 p.m.
Wade Miley vs. Jon Lester

Tuesday - 7:05 p.m.
Jhoulys Chacin vs. Jose Quintana

Wednesday - 7:05 p.m.
Chase Anderson vs. Kyle Hendricks

The weather debacle in Washington may end up working out at least in a small way for the Cubs in that Lester is available to start tonight after only throwing one inning before the rains came on Friday night. The Brewers have missed Lester in most of the series between these two teams this year, but did face them in the first Brewers/Cubs series of the year back on April 5th. Lester shut out the Brewers over 6 innings on that day, striking out 6 and only allowing 3 hits. At age 34, he’s starting to strike out fewer batters — his K/9 is about a full batter less per 9 innings than his career average — and teams are hitting fewer ground balls and more line drives and fly balls against him. The Friendly Confines haven’t been that friendly to him this year, as he’s seen much better results on the road (2.82 ERA in 78.1 innings) than at Wrigley Field (4.25 ERA in 79.2 innings).

This will be the second straight start Quintana is making against the Brewers and his 6th start against the Cream City Nine this year. The Brewers have only really gotten to him once this year, when they scored 5 runs on the power of 3 home runs against him in the last start he made against them at Wrigley on August 14th. Last week, he went back to controlling the Brewers’ lineup well, working into the 7th inning and limiting the Brewers to 2 runs in what ended up being a 6-4 Cubs win.

Hendricks will be making his fourth start against the Brewers this year in the series finale, and he’s turned things around since the last time the Brewers saw him in August and scored 4 runs off of him. Hendricks did still strike out 8 Brewers in that start on August 15th, and since then has posted a 1.44 ERA in 4 starts, including his last start in Washington where he only allowed 1 earned run over 5 innings (although 4 runs did cross the plate). Hendricks has given up 8 earned runs in 18 innings against the Brewers this year.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs