RECORDS: Brewers 72-68 Cubs 77-63
GAMETIMES: 7:05 Friday (the horror, the horror), 3:05 Saturday, 1:20 Sunday
TV: WGN Friday, CSN Saturday, ABC Sunday
KUUUUUUHHHHHN: Brew Crew Ball
So the temptation is to sit here and be confident that the Cubs have had enough of the bullshit. That they agree with us that it’s time to end this silliness, and put the Brewers division hopes to bed once and for all. And really, they could do that by simply winning two of three. That would be a six game lead with 19 to play, meaning if the Cubs managed just a 10-9 record the rest of the way the Crew would have to go 16-3 just to get into a tie. You’d like to think that won’t happen. And yet nothing this season has gone that simply.
Also, the Brewers have clearly identified this as their last stand, because they’ve set their rotation up exactly how you’d want it with Nelson, Anderson, and Davies going to the mound. The Cubs are definitely not, though with Arrieta hurt and Lester still trying to find it after his absence this is probably just as good as you could do? Swapping out Quintana for Montgomery isn’t the lock one would hope it would be, but here we are.
Still, with the way things have been going the Cubs could send Len, JD, and then Coom-Dawg out to pitch this series and the Brewers couldn’t generate much offense. They’ve completely gone in the tank, which is how you go from a 5.5 game lead in the division to a five-game deficit in just under two months. That’s not easy to do, but don’t think the Brewers didn’t try. Their last in the NL in the last month in runs, 12th in average, 13th in OBP.
A couple of early season linchpins have been turned into a puddle of plasma at the plate the past month. Travis Shaw and Eric Thames (and really, who could have ever seen that coming?) both are rocking a 77 wRC+ during that span. Thames is striking out exactly a third of the time. Shaw is hitting .208. Needles McGee in left field is also emitting the aroma of rotting flesh, as his wRC+ is 71. His power and OBP have completely disappeared, which of course won’t stop him from at least one annoying homer this weekend because that’s just how things go. The only ones pulling their weight are Domingo Santana and newly-acquired Neil Walker, which is just about as annoying as the aforementioned Braun homer. Neil Walker? Fucking seriously?
The Brewers haven’t completely dropped out of sight because the rotation continues to do the heavy lifting, with prospect Brandon Woodruff helping out and his 2.08 ERA. The bullpen is also quite the doomsday device. Don’t get to Cory Knebel, otherwise you might as well not bother. Jacob Barnes, Anthony Swarzak, and Josh Hader are also striking out the world, and Jeremy Jeffress is back here because really, why not?
The Brewers actually have two fronts to fight on, as thanks to the Rockies turning into…well, the Rockies, they’re only three games out of a coin-flip game to get fustigated by Zack Greinke. This is clearly their Valhalla, setting their rotation the way they did.
Even with the disappointing split in Pittsburgh, that would have been three of four if not for some goofiness from Carl’s Jr., the Cubs have regained some of last year’s swagger of late. If they are going to replicate any of those heroics, they’re going to put it on the Brewers’ skull for three games. This is the Cubs division. It will be for the next five years at least. To quote one of our great orators of our time, “Know your role and shut your damn mouth.”