RECORDS: Brewers 24-18 Cubs 21-19
GAMETIMES: Friday-Sunday at 1:20
TV: CSN Friday and Saturday, WGN Sunday
NORTH OF THE CASTLE: Brew Crew Ball
Baseball at its root is just a matter of perspective. We could sit here and say the Cubs are simply 5-4 over their past nine games, or 5-7 over their last 12. That’s middling at best, not encouraging at all. Or we could say they’ve won four of their last six, which does sound pretty tidy indeed. Whichever kind of person you are, and it definitely defines who you are in total depending on the sample size you choose so look for you romantic counterpoint accordingly, the Cubs can turn this all into feel-good streak by taking a series against the Brew Crew which starts today.
Thanks to a recent schedule that saw the Brewers get the Mets and Padres over the past week, they’ve won six of their last seven and are atop the NL Central in the middle of May, if you can believe it. To be fairer to them, in May they’ve also taken two of three from both the Cardinals and Red Sox, so they have run with the bigger dogs and not just the remedial class of the National League.
And just like you remember from April, presumably, the Brewers have spent the past couple weeks hammering the shit out of the ball. Over the last two weeks the Brewers are sporting seven players with a wRC+ of over 100, and that doesn’t include Needles McGee who has missed most of it with a calf booboo. He will miss this series as well, as he isn’t eligible to come off the DL until Monday. So you won’t get your customary homer to Winnetka this series, and I think we’re all thankful for that. Eric Thames has also missed the past three games with a case of strep throat, which some writer will blame on all the ‘roids he’s taking surely, but he should play this weekend you’d think.
Not that the rotation has needed all the help, as they’ve certainly been serviceable. Zach Davies and Wily Peralta have been straight gasoline, but Nelson, Garza, and Anderson have held down the fort though not exactly providing a lot of innings. Garza has actually been quite good since he came off the DL… before he heads right back onto it any minute now. The Cubs will duck him this series, but not before he can bitch about how bad the team around him here was when he was here. I bet you forgot Garza was a Cub there for a hot minute, didn’t you? It’s true. It happened. Got you Carl’s Jr. in return. I was more excited about Mike Out at the time. Life’s funny.
The starters have been picked up by the pen, which has been excellent all season for the Wisconsin Nine. Current closer Cory Kneble has struck out 19 of the last 32 hitters he’s seen. Because of that, he’s replaced Neftali Feliz in that role. Jacob Barnes, Oliver Drake (which is not a made-up name, somehow) and Jared Hughes have also been effective weapons out of the outfield wall doors. You have to believe it’s a house of cards though, because no pen walks more guys than the Brewers’ one does, and you can only get away with that for so long. They’re only middling when it comes to striking out guys as well, so eventually that’s going to be a real problem.
The Cubs won’t get to see Davies or Peralta, but they will get major league debutant Epsino today. If they can get two in this series, the complete overturned clown car that is the San Francisco Giants on the road awaits after, meaning a really successful homestand is within reach. Let’s do that.