It might be easy to forget now, but the Brewers started the 2018 season 1-7 against the Cubs, and it easily could have been 0-8 if it weren’t for a walkoff win. Of course, it also could have been 4-4 — 4 of those 8 games were decided by 2 runs or less, so it wasn’t like the Cubs were dominating the Brewers — just eeking out the close wins like you would expect an experienced contender to do.
Now the roles might end up being reversed. The Brewers come into this series at 6-1 on the strength of a 5-0 record in one-run games to start the year. The Cubs are 1-5, haven’t won since Opening Day, and have struggled to keep teams off the board, giving up 46 runs in 6 games.
The Brewers wound up winning 8 of the last 11 meetings against the Cubs last year. Will that run continue?
Friday, April 5th - 7:10 p.m. CDT
Jose Quintana vs. Brandon Woodruff
Quintana has a 1.62 ERA in 11 career starts against the Brewers, allowing 13 runs in 72.1 innings while striking out 67.
Saturday, April 6th - 6:10 p.m. CDT
Cole Hamels vs. Corbin Burnes
Hamels allowed 2 runs in 6 innings in his only start against the Brewers as a Cub last year. The Cubs lost that game, but it’s okay, because it wasn’t a rivalry.
Sunday, April 7th - 1:10 p.m. CDT
Kyle Hendricks vs. Zach Davies
Hendricks hasn’t dominated the Brewers quite as much as Quintana, but has a 3.01 ERA against them in 19 career starts. The Brewers may have turned a corner against him last year, though, scoring 10 runs on 25 hits in 4 starts.
Player to Watch
The Cubs could really, really use Craig Kimbrel. But since he (probably) won’t be signing and pitching in this series, we’re left to watch the rest of the Cubs bullpen. And they, uh, have not been great to start the year.
Mike Montgomery has given up 6 runs on 8 hits in 2.2 innings over 4 appearances so far. Tyler Chatwood has given up 4 runs on 5 hits in 3.2 innings in his first 2 appearances. It’s not just the long/middle relief struggling, either — Carl Edwards, Jr. has only been able to record 3 outs in 3 appearances, walking 5 batters and being charged with 5 runs. Steve Cishek has walked 3 while being charged with 3 runs in 1.2 innings.
These are all very small samples, sure, but it’s really no wonder the Cubs haven’t been able to pick up more than 1 win at this point. If the bullpen can even things out this weekend, it’ll be a competitive series. If they can’t, we may be in for more late-game, one-run Brewers Devil Magic.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference