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Series Preview: Chicago Cubs @ Milwaukee Brewers

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The Brewers face the struggling Cubs for the second time in a week, this time at home

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Brewers are back in Milwaukee after a successful road trip that saw them take both series as the pitching continues to be excellent and the offense shows signs of turning things around.

They’ll hope to carry that momentum into the second of three series against the Chicago Cubs this month. The first meeting between these two teams saw both offenses struggle until Lorenzo Cain carried the Brewers to a series win with a pair of late-inning home runs.

While the Brewers have showed some signs of getting the bats going, the Cubs have remained stuck trying to figure out what’s going on.

The Lineup

Despite playing 6 of their 9 games so far against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cubs come into this series at a disappointing 4-5 and the second-worst team OPS in all of baseball at .592 (and tied for the worst OPS+ in baseball at 66). The Brewers were right there with the Cubs, Marlins and A’s as the league’s worst offenses through the first week or so, but the past two days in St. Louis have helped them pull themselves out of that group.

The Cubs are still just averaging 2.89 runs per game, and it could be argued that the number is even more distressing considering how many games the Cubs have played at home — and again, how many games have come against a team that isn’t trying.

Outside of Javier Baez (.801 OPS and 120 OPS+) and Kris Bryant (.928 OPS and 157 OPS+), nobody in the Chicago lineup is hitting the ball with any kind of authority, and those two are the only regulars above league average when it comes to OPS+. The outfield has been especially abysmal, with Joc Pederson (.138/.188/.241 with 11 strikeouts in 32 plate appearances), Ian Happ (.160/.323/.280) and Jason Heyward (.172/.226/.310) all getting off to slow starts.

The Probable Pitchers

Adbert Alzolay will get another start against the Brewers after he became the first starting pitcher the Brewers truly roughed up. He allowed 4 runs on 4 hits over 5 innings, with most of the damage coming on a first-inning home run by Travis Shaw. He’ll go up against Freddy Peralta again tonight, after Peralta struck out 8 over 5 innings while allowing just 1 hit. Both Alzolay and Peralta struggled with command in their first meeting and will hope to be a bit sharper.

Kyle Hendricks and Brandon Woodruff will face off again after their duel in last Wednesday’s series finale that saw Hendricks throw 6 shutout innings while Woodruff took a no-hitter into the 7th inning. It’ll likely be another low-scoring night — you have to go back to April 7, 2019 to find a start in which the Brewers were able to score more than 2 runs off of Hendricks.

The Brewers will see Jake Arrieta for the first time this year in the series finale on Wednesday afternoon. The veteran isn’t dominant like he used to be, but does carry a sub-3 ERA (2.76) in his 7 career starts against the Brewers and is coming off an outing in which he held the Pirates to 2 runs over 6 innings. He’ll face Corbin Burnes, who will try to make it three straight starts of only one hit allowed to start the year.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference