There's a little less smoke and mirrors going on with the Brewers record compared to the team the Cubs just swept. The Brewers are simply scoring a crapload of runs, in large part thanks to Eric Thames's scorching hot April. He has slowed down a bit in May, but he's anchored what has been a pretty good offense, middle infield aside. The biggest disappointment has been Jonathan Villar, who has followed up last year's breakout 3 WAR season with a .215/.281/.344 line and sub-replacement level play. So odds are he will hit four homers in this series (dying laughing)
- OBP: Thames (.435)
- ISO: Thames (.378)
- HR: Thames (13)
- R+RBI: Thames (62)
- wRC+: Thames (184)
- BSR: Keon Broxton (1.4)
- SP K/9: Jimmy Nelson (8.32)
- SP BB/9: Matt Garza (1.82)
- SP FIP: Chase Anderson (3.02)
- RP K/9: Corey Knebel (15.00)
- RP BB/9: Knebel (4.29)
- RP FIP: Knebel (1.28)
- WAR: Thames (1.8)
- OBP: Kris Bryant (.404)
- ISO: Bryant (.243)
- HR: Bryant/Anthony Rizzo (7)
- R+RBI: Bryant (43)
- wRC+: Bryant (148)
- BSR: Jon Jay (2.4)
- SP K/9: Jake Arrieta (9.87)
- SP BB/9: John Lackey (2.47)
- SP FIP: Jon Lester (3.68)
- RP K/9: Carl Edwards Jr (12.46)
- RP BB/9: Brian Duensing (1.13)
- RP FIP: Wade Davis (1.37)
- WAR: Bryant (1.4)
Bizarre fun fact – Every single Brewers starter has a lower walk rate than any of their relievers.
Injuries, transactions, vengeance pacts, etc.
Ryan Braun is out until the end of the month with a calf strain, which should help keep the lid on this offense. Opening day starter Junior Guerra is starting a rehab assignment soon, and Eric Thames missed most of the last series with strep throat.
Jason Heyward is starting a rehab stint down at South Bend and could be back soon. Zobrist and Jay are dealing with nagging back injuries, and Russell missed time with a sore shoulder in the last week. Brett Anderson is on the DL but has probably thrown his last pitch as a Cub.
K%, BB%, ERA, projected ERA listed for each starter.
Friday: Paolo Espino, RHP (-,-,-,4.37) vs Eddie Butler, RHP (21.7%, 13.0%, 0,00, 5.01), 1:20 PM CT
This is Espino's MLB debut. I don't know much about him, but you don't need to see his stat line to get an idea of what kind of pitcher he is. He made it to AAA in 2010, but this is his MLB debut. He throws a lot of strikes.
Despite the low strikeout rate and weird peripherals in the minors, I kind of…liked…(?) Butler's debut with the Cubs and want to see more. His stuff looked pretty great, it's baffling that his K rate is so low.
Saturday: Chase Anderson, RHP (20.4%, 8.4%, 3.43, 4.43) vs Jake Arrieta, RHP (25.0%, 6.6%, 5.44, 3.22), 1:20 PM CT
Speaking of weird peripherals, Arrieta's strikeout and walk rates look pretty good, but he's getting far fewer gound balls this year. When batters hit the ball they're hitting it a lot harder, and a lot of balls have left the yard. The movement seems fine, but I guess this is the consequence of the velocity loss?
Anderson was worse than I remembered last year – posting a 5+ FIP and only throwing 150 innings in 30 starts. Not much has changed this year except that he's given up much fewer home runs. He's averaging slightly more innings per start, but hasn't made it through the sixth in his last three outings.
Sunday: Jimmy Nelson, RHP (21.7%, 7.9%, 3.86, 4.36) vs John Lackey, RHP (23.7%, 6.3%, 4.37, 3.74), 1:20 PM CT
I caught most of Nelson's second start on the radio back in April and to hear the Brewers broadcasters you'd think Nelson was going to win the CYA this year. He went on to give up 15 runs in his next three starts.
I was surprised to find that Lackey has actually thrown the most innings of all of the Cubs starters. He's neck and neck with Lester for the best xFIP among the Cubs starters, he's just given up some extra homers.