After a brief four-game road trip that saw them go 2-2 against the Pirates, the Cubs return home to Wrigley Field to take on the Brewers in a three-game tilt between NL Central foes. With Chicago holding a five-game advantage over Milwaukee in the division, the series could go a long way toward all but eliminating the team up I-94.
Runs were at a premium the last time these two met up, with the teams combining to score 12 runs in three games, including a couple that ended in 2-1 finals. The Cubs won that series, two games to one.
Just two weeks ago, Milwaukee was entering a brutal nine-game stretch that saw them going up against the Dodgers, Cardinals and Nationals. The Brewers emerged from that tough schedule with a 6-3 record, allowing them to keep pace with the Cubs in the division. They followed that up by getting swept in a three-game series by a rebuilding Reds team, so who knows which team the Cubs are going to see this weekend.
If the Brewers want to make their way back into the division, they will have to improve their offensive production. While Chicago leads MLB with 305 runs scored since the All-Star break, Milwaukee falls on the opposite end of the spectrum, having scored an MLB-worst 177 runs in 49 games. This stands in contrast to their numbers before the break, which saw the Brewers score 451 runs in 91 games, good for sixth-best in MLB. Not only are they scoring fewer runs, but they have also seen their slugging percentage take a substantial drop, from .451 pre-break to .398 post.
One Milwaukee player who has actually seen an uptick in his production is Neil Walker. The former Pirates and Mets second baseman was acquired from New York in the middle of August and has hit well with his new team, slashing .292/.403/.508 with a 136 wRC+ in 21 games.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Friday, September 8 at 7:05 CT on WGN
- Saturday, September 9 at 3:05 CT on CSN, MLB Network (out-of-market only)
- Sunday, September 10 at 1:20 CT on ABC 7
What to Watch For
- There is no doubt that Kyle Schwarber has been better since returning from his brief stint at triple-A Iowa. Both the numbers (.171/.295/.378 with 77 wRC+ pre vs. .243/.335/.526 with 122 wRC+ post) and the eye test show that he is back in line with the hitter most were expecting heading into the season. Despite the improvement, Schwarber may be in store for a rough weekend. The Cubs slugger is hitting just .114/.152/.273 against the Brewers this season and his career numbers against Milwaukee aren’t much better: .170/.255/.364. Against Friday starter Jimmy Nelson, Schwarber has just one hit in nine at-bats with three strikeouts, though that one hit was a home run.
- Cubs fans have long held a, shall we say, distaste for Ryan Braun, and for good reason. Disregarding the performance-enhancement issues surrounding him that are totally part of a global conspiracy orchestrated by a secret FedEx cabal, the Milwaukee slugger has been a constant thorn in Chicago’s side throughout his career. In 146 games against the Cubs, Braun owns a .335/.411/.589 slash line with 32 home runs and 117 RBI. That pace has continued in 2017, with the left fielder hitting .324/.410/.647 with three home runs and 10 RBI in nine games.
- With the return of Jon Lester from the DL, it was expected that Mike Montgomery would go back to the bullpen as the Cubs transitioned to a traditional five-man rotation. Those plans were discarded, however, when Jake Arrieta strained his right hamstring in his last start, so Montgomery will stay in the rotation for the time being. Although the 28-year-old lefty has been an undeniably valuable swingman this season, he has struggled mightily against the Brewers. In six games (one start, five relief appearances) versus Milwaukee in 2017, Montgomery has gone 1-3 with an 8.74 ERA and 2.12 WHIP in 11 1/3 innings. Walks in particular have hurt him in these outings, as he has issued 10 free passes against the Brew Crew.