Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers (43-61) at Chicago Cubs (48-55)

seriespreview

I've been out of the country for the last two weeks so I didn't catch any games, since they were all on at 2 AM or so. I feel SK's pain. I did catch the last few innings of last night's game and was amused to hear Len and JD talking about how this is the first time in a while that the team has been only seven games below .500. Silver linings I guess. They have played .500 ball since May or so, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I don't see that going forward following the current and future trades from the team. 

For those who do hope the Cubs keep winning (and it is always fun to watch when they do), this series should provide more opportunity. The Cubs just swept the defending champs, who are in a major tailspin right now, and now get a home series against a team that's even more discombobulated. You may have heard what happened to their star player. 

Team Overviews

  Brewers Cubs
wRC+ 95 (6th) 90 (13th)
BSR -1.8 (6th) -2.4 (8th)
UZR -8.2 (11th) 20.5 (2nd)
DRS 28 (3rd) 9 (7th)
SP FIP- 120 (14th) 96 (4th)
RP FIP- 97 (7th) 113 (15th)

Injury news

Aside from their suspension related woes, the Brewers have been rocked with injuries this season. Corey Hart is now out for the season, without recording a single PA, after his knee injury ended up requiring surgery. Former Cub Aramis Ramirez has been great when healthy, but hasn't been able to stay healthy. He's been on the DL nearly all month due to a sprained knee suffered in Spring Training that keeps bothering him. The rapidly falling Mat Gamel is out for the year following knee surgery in March. Marco Estrada has been on the DL since the beginning of June, and his rehab has been going poorly. He's not expected back for a few more weeks. SS Jean Segura is day to day with some forearm tightness following a HBP.

Not much new on the Cubs injury front. Bogusevic is still out with his hamstring injury, and Scott Baker is working his way back. He could conceivably be ready by mid-August, but he has looked not-great in his rehab starts, struggling to even reach 90 mph.

News, notes, blood oaths, etc.

The Brewers are offering $10 vouchers to fans who show up to any of their home games in August. No word on whether this is an insult to their best customers. I didn't think of it, but the article points out that they could just pay out this money with the money that they don't have to pay Braun. I kind of like the idea.

Lots of trades going down today, especially for relief pitching, but there hasn't been much buzz about the Cubs. Still, I'll be surprised if two of Nate Schierholtz, James Russell, and Kevin Gregg are on the team three days from now.

Five years ago today, the Cubs played a four game series in Milwaukee. The Brewers were only two back of the Cubs at the time and it was a great opportunity for them to pick up ground. Instead, the Cubs blew them out of their own ballpark in a four game sweep that was arguably the most memorable stretch of the 2008 season, and they never looked back.

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs

Pitching Matchups

Monday: Kyle Lohse, RHP (3.37, 111, 3.90, 4.04) vs Jeff Samardzija, RHP (3.94, 93, 3.46, 3.56), 7:05 PM CT

Kyle Lohse was the designated whipping boy for the qualifiying offer process, but ended up getting a head-scratchingly decent deal with the Brewers. For a team that has a barren farm system, losing a first round pick was kind of a puzzling move. Still, this was a team that won 83 games last year, and maybe Lohse was the guy who could help push them over the hump in what looked to be a tough division. But there are few things worse than a below average team with a bunch of guys having career years. Lohse has been okay with the Brewers, mostly having problems with the gopherball. The main thing that jumps out with Lohse is that he doesn't walk many batters – so the Cubs should be a good matchup for him.

Shark has been a bit wild lately, walking 18 batters over his last five starts. Small sample size caveat applies, of course, but he's been nails on the road and shit at home – batters have a .365 wOBA against at Wrigley and .268 on the road. Maybe the cooler weather will help him out tonight.

Tuesday: Yovani Gallardo, RHP (4.88, 106, 3.83, 3.71) vs Carlos Villanueva, RHP (4.23, 104, 4.12, 4.08), 1:20 PM CT

Gallardo's collapse this year has been one of the non-injury things that crippled this team in 2013. His peripherals still look okay, though still not that great. Gallardo's always been a low(ish) ERA guy in his career – this is the first year that he's had one above 4, though his FIP has moved around from season to season. He's not giving up a lot of extra HRs, and his BABIP is at a not great but not terrible .319. I guess he's just had trouble with sequencing.

Villanueva's had one terrible start and three decent, but short starts (including one quasi-start in relief of Rusin) since his return to the rotation. He was very stingy with walks for most of the season, but has struggled to find control as he works his way back in to starting. 

Tuesday: Tyler Thornburg, RHP (4.98) vs Jake Arrieta, RHP (4.80), 7:05 PM CT

Thornburg was the Brewers BA #2 prospect going into this season, but that's a low bar to clear. He did not appear on their top 100 list. He can hit 97 with his fastball and has a wicked curveball that he has trouble throwing for strikes. He gets Lincecum comps for his delivery to the plate, which may or may not bode well for his durability. 

Arrieta was a relatively high ranked prospect a few years ago, but fell off the prospect lists after 2009. He had 18 starts with Baltimore in 2010, and had a understatedly less than great BB/K ratio (48:52). He upped his strikeout rate to something that was closer to expectations in 2011, but got rocked to a 5+ ERA, and posted a 6.20 ERA in 2012 in 114.2 innings. He's got great stuff, but until he finds the strike zone it can't help him that much. Maybe Samardzija can rub some Energon into his shoulder.

Wednesday: Wily Peralta, RHP (4.54, 110, 4.18, 4.32) vs Edwin Jackson, RHP (4.89, 3.55, 3.64, 3.63), 7:05 PM CT

Peralta looked great in five starts for the Brewers last year, debuting with a sub 3 ERA and FIP. He's been more pedestrian this year, though still a pitcher that's nice to have around. Peralta had a great run of starts beginning on July 9, when he shut out Cincinatti, and followed it up with another 15 innings and only one run allowed. However, he gave up 8 runs (5 earned) in his last start in Colorado. 

EJax is slowly bringing that ERA down. He's pitching into the seventh inning in his last three starts, and he's been getting a lot of ground balls. I got nothin' else to say here (dying laughing). This is a year!

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