For a team that is arguably the hottest in baseball, the Cubs sure had a battle this week with the lowly Marlins. While they ended up taking three of four in the series, three of the games were decided in the 9th inning or later, including a bullpen meltdown on Monday night.
The margin for error shrinks this weekend in a series with the Brewers. It’s hard to say that any series in early May is a “must win,” but any time you have a rival team come to town for a weekend series, it sure feels like one. On a side note, this will be the last time the two teams meet until late July.
Nearly all facets of the game are really clicking right now for the Cubs. In the month of May, they are averaging 6.4 runs/game with a starting pitching ERA of 1.98. The bullpen has also held its own with a 2.63 ERA.
On the other side, the Brewers are coming in one of the hottest teams in the league. Riding the coattails of 2018 MVP Christan Yelich, they’re fresh off two straight sweeps and sit just one game behind the Cubs in the division.
In a similar winning formula to 2018, the Brewers’ bullpen has been downright nasty. Over 45 inning this month, the group has a 3.00 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. The Brewers seem to have perfected the multi-inning reliever, with nine members of their ‘pen putting up more innings than games pitched.
Their offense, on the other hand, has been a bag of mixed goods. While they’ve reached base at a respectable clip, their slugging percentage is a paltry .390. Needless to say, it’s hard to imagine where they might be without Yelich, who has already accrued a 2.8 fWAR this year. To give some perspective, that’s more than Mike Moustakas, Yasmani Grandal, and Lorenzo Cain combined.
While Yelich has certainly been MVP-caliber again this year, teammate Ryan Braun (.480/.519/.800) is leading the way this month. Funny enough, Braun’s career OBP in both the month of May AND at Wrigley Field is .377.
This has the makings of an exciting spring series with definite playoff implications. It will also be a great test for the Cubs pitchers as they haven’t faced Yelich in just over a month.
Game Times and Broadcast Info
- Friday, May 10 at 1:20 CT on CSC and MLB Network
- Saturday, May 11 at 1:20 CT on ABC 7
- Sunday, May 12 at 6:05 CT on ESPN
What to Watch For
- Kris Bryant is on fire right now with 4 HR and 11 RBI in May.
- Quintana is 6-3 with a 2.51 ERA in 12 career starts versus Milwaukee. Let’s see if he can continue that dominance tomorrow afternoon.
- Kyle Schwarber has struggled mightily against RHP this year with a .675 OPS and only 3 HR in 30 games. Will this be the series he breaks out?
- It will be interesting to see Joe Maddon’s approaches with Yelich. We might see a parallel to May of 2016 when the Cubs walked Bryce Harper 13 times in four games.