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Series Preview: Chicago Cubs @ Milwaukee Brewers

Catching Chicago for the NL Central crown may be unlikely at this point, but this series is still important in the Brewers’ playoff push

St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs - Game One Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

We’ll just get this out of the way early, but it’s extremely unlikely the Brewers are able to catch the Cubs for the NL Central at this point. That’s not pessimism, it’s a numbers thing. In the words of Ned Yost, the math is on their side -- they have a 5 game lead on the Brewers with 26 games left to play. While the Brewers have 6 head-to-head games left against the Cubs, even winning both series and going 4-2 would only net them 2 games on that 5-game deficit.

It’s not impossible to catch the Cubs, but we’re at the point where focusing on hanging on to a wildcard spot may be the way to go. With that said, the Brewers probably still need to win both series to keep the momentum going in that regard and keep their 1.5-game cushion in tact.

Probable Starters

Monday - 1:10 p.m. CDT
Cole Hamels vs. Zach Davies

Tuesday - 7:10 p.m. CDT
Mike Montgomery vs. Wade Miley

Wednesday - 7:10 p.m. CDT
Jose Quintana vs. Jhoulys Chacin

Hamels is looking like a classic case of just needing a change of scenery and the motivation of a playoff race to turn things around. He’s likely due for some regression at some point, but in 6 starts with the Cubs he’s only allowed 3 runs in 39 innings. The big change from his time in Texas this year is he’s cut his walks from 3.3 BB/9 to 2.5 BB/9, and he hasn’t allowed a single home run as a Cub after allowing 23 in 20 starts with the Rangers. As a reminder, Hamels had a no-trade clause that included the Brewers ahead of the trade deadline.

Montgomery was having a solid month of August before his most recent start in Atlanta, where he gave up 4 runs on 8 hits in 4.1 innings, but the Cubs were still able to come away with a 5-4 win. That start to August was a part of the Cubs’ surge as of late, and helpful given he was largely the weakest member of an overall weak rotation in July. The Brewers have a history of hitting Montgomery well, but he did shut them down for 1 run on 2 hits in 6 innings back in June. Fortunately, that run was enough for the Brewers to come away with a 1-0 win.

Quintana’s history of shutting down the Brewers is well known at this point, but they were able to get to him during the last meeting between these two teams in August, tagging him for 5 runs on the back of 3 home runs on August 14th. He’s bounced back since then, though, allowing just 4 total earned runs in his next three starts. In his last start, he held the Phillies to 1 run while striking out 7 over 6 innings. He hasn’t allowed a home run since that start against the Brewers.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference