RECORDS: Cubs 2-1 Brewers 1-3
GAMETIMES: 7:10 Friday, 6:20 Saturday, 1:10 Sunday
TV: CSN Friday, CSN+ Saturday, WGN Sunday
YA HEY DERE: Disciples of Uecker
Have to love symmetry. Last year the Cubs got two wins from their opening series on the road, and they’ve done the same this time (though out of three instead of two, but who’s counting you fucking nerd?). They’ll spend the weekend on the road too before coming home for a night opener on Monday. Though we say “road” loosely, as we can be sure that most of the stands at Miller Park will be awash in the lighter shade of blue, and a deeper shade of soul.
What they’ll find there is a rebuilding Brewers team that’s going to give Willson Contreras plenty of chances to fire baseballs around the diamond. There’s not much to mark out the Brewers, except for the fact they like to run. They stole 42 more bases than any other team last year. Most of that came from Jonathan Villar, Keon Broxton (who might not play after getting in the mush with a pitch yesterday), and Hernan Perez. All three return this year, though Perez will probably lose time to Travis Shaw. Even Needles McGee gets in on the act with 16 steals last year, as well as being their only main power threat since they sent Jonathan Lucroy to whatever destination he allowed himself to be punted to last year.
The Brewers are making a big deal out of giving Eric Thames a shot this year to hold down first base after he tore up the Korean league for a few years. And if you’re wondering why all those homers in a distant league should make you care, we simply can’t tell you. But hey, when you’re the Brewers and in the middle of a rebuild, you can take a flier with this sort of thing. 1st is where Braun should probably end up before too long, and this season will be another debate as to whether it’s time to find a taker for his outsized contract and DH-like repertoire. In all likelihood, it probably won’t be but he’s still the biggest chip they have to cash in.
The story for the Milwaukee 9 is bubbling underneath the surface, where a raft of prospects await and some could be up later this year to make them in any way interesting. Lewis Brinson in the outfield, and Brandon Woodruff and Josh Hader (which is a name we won’t have fun with at all) could all be up before we close the books on the ’17 season, and thanks to the trades of Lucroy, Smith, Fiers, Gomez, and one or two others over the past couple years there’s more behind that. They’re more looking at 2019 to be real challengers, but starting with the second half of this season things could really start to get fun for our neighbors outside the wall (which is probably handy, as that’s just about the time Aaron Rodgers won’t be able to carry the entire team by himself and they’ll all be ready to throw themselves into the lake).
As for this weekend, Nelson has had his success agains the Cubs in the past, as Rizzo, Russell, and Bryant have been basically helpless against him for the most part. Milone is the type of soft-tossing lefty that used to give us Cubs fans nightmares as he would assuredly give up three hits over seven innings as the drooling hulks that used to populate the Cubs lineup would Gashouse Gorilla swing themselves into the dirt. He was straight-up gasoline for the Twins last year though. Davies is the only one in the current rotation who has any hope of sticking around when the Brewers matter again at age 24. He does a fair impression of Hendricks when he’s on, but like most things in Milwaukee the version that resides in Chicago is just better.
Time for some wins in Wrigley North.