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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs

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The latest round in one of the Brewers’ most closely-contested season series heads to Wrigley this weekend

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers are coming off a frustrating and disappointing series in Oakland, but the Chicago Cubs have many of the same feelings after losing 2 of 3 to the St. Louis Cardinals on the road to start the week.

That means the Cubs enter this weekend a game back in the NL Central race, while the Brewers are 2 games back. That may be the best possible scenario, considering how the series in Oakland went for the Brewers.

The Cubs have lost 7 of 10, and much of that has been because of how unbelievably bad they’ve been on the road this year. The series in St. Louis wrapped up a 9-game road trip in which they won just 3 games, including losing 2 of 3 in Milwaukee last weekend, and they’re now 12 games under .500 away from Wrigley Field.

Of course, that’s where they’ll play this weekend, and the only reason they’ve been able to stay in the race is their 36-18 record at home. Only the Dodgers, who are 41-14 at Dodger Stadium, have a better home record in the NL.

The Brewers and Cubs have traded series wins so far this year, with the Brewers holding a 5-4 advantage in the season series after winning both meetings at Miller Park, while the Cubs won the lone series that has been played at Wrigley. That series could have swung the other way, though, considering the series’ middle game included a walkoff win in a 15-inning marathon.

It’d be hard to find a more evenly-matched pair of rivals to this point in the season.

Probable Pitchers

Friday, August 2nd - 1:20 p.m. CDT
Zach Davies vs. Jose Quintana

Quintana has long been tough on the Brewers, and that was the case through 4 innings on Sunday, before the Brewers were able to chase him in the 5th inning after scoring three runs off of him. This will be his fourth start against the Brewers this year.

Saturday, August 3rd - 1:20 p.m. CDT
Gio Gonzalez vs. Cole Hamels

Hamels has been on the injured list with an oblique strain since leaving his start after one inning on June 28th. He had been very good up to that point, putting up a 2.98 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 99.2 innings, and managing to keep the ball in the park during this juiced ball season, surrendering only 9 home runs in 17 starts. The last time he faced the Brewers at Wrigley, he held them to 1 run on 3 hits over 7 innings in a 2-1 Cubs win.

Sunday, August 4th - 1:20 p.m. CDT
Adrian Houser vs. Yu Darvish

This is the first time the Brewers will be facing Darvish this year, in what’s continued to be a very up-and-down year in a disappointing tenure since signing a monster free agent contract. July was a microcosm of that -- he had back-to-back 6-inning shutout performances, in between two outings where he gave up 4 runs. He’s coming off a good outing against the Cardinals, allowing just 2 runs over 6 innings while striking out 9 and not walking anyone.

Player to Watch

There are a few new faces on the Cubs since this week’s trading deadline, but until a deal for Detroit’s Nicholas Castellanos was announced in the minutes after the deadline passed, it felt like an underwhelming day for the North Siders.

Tony Kemp and David Phelps should help the Cubs cover some of their minor weaknesses -- a backup infielder not named Addison Russell and middle relief -- but Castellanos could end up having the biggest impact.

He’s had a bit of a down year to this point, hitting .273/.328/.462 for a .790 OPS and 106 OPS+. That doesn’t feel like a big difference maker and he’s poor defensively, but he was brought to Chicago to mash lefties -- he’s hit .347/.415/.611 against them this year, with 11 of his 25 hits against them being home runs or doubles. His power numbers could be further helped by switching from Comerica Park to Wrigley.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference