Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers (24-18) at Chicago Cubs (21-19)

In Series Previews by berselius124 Comments

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)

Team Leaders



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.

Pitching Matchups

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.


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  1. dmick89

    The movement seems fine, but I guess this is the consequence of the velocity loss?

    I think he’s thrown a lot of bad pitches. He hasn’t walked as many guys, but he’s left a lot of pitches in the middle of the plate to be crushed. He was probably able to get away with some of that before, but I don’t remember him missing his spots in the zone as often as he has this year.

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  2. cerulean

    Complete outside speculation on trade candidates:

    Not going to be traded:
    Bryant, Rizzo, Russell, Contreras, Heyward, everybody of consequence in the rotation/bullpen.

    Very unlikely to be traded:
    Schwarber, Zobrist, Baez.

    Unlikely to be traded:
    Happ, Montero, Jay.

    Likely to be offered:
    Candelario, La Stella, Almora.

    If the FO is going to make a big splash for a good, cost-controlled pitcher, I think Jimenez is their best tradeable asset, but Happ is giving him a run for his money because of his versatility and readiness for teams on the cusp like the 2014 Cubs were or even teams in the running who have more pitching depth than position depth. Candelario has thus far diminished his stock with his top-line stats, but he has seemed unlucky based on his batted ball profile. His defense, however, has been quite competent. I hope to see him destroy AAA and get another good look in the Bigs before the deadline.

    Of pitching prospects, Cease is probably the least likely prospect to be traded now that he has that ankle injury (in addition to the team’s long term pitching needs, particularly for a TOR starter). Trevor Clifton and Oscar de la Cruz are right behind him because of their proximity and lack of “prospectiness”. Jose Albertos, however, may not be long for this team.

    It’s shaping up to be an interesting deadline. Let’s hope Eddie Butler and Jake Arrieta make a trade less imperative. Leverage is good for negotiation.

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  3. Ryno

    Yeah. I say if you want to like a post, you go right ahead and like it. If you’re worried about potential backlash, just don’t tell anyone you like it.

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  4. Author

    To-day’s base ball squadron

    LF Schwarber
    3B Bryant
    1B Rizzo
    CF Happ
    2B Zobrist
    C Contreras
    SS Baez
    P Butler
    RF Jay

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  5. Edwin

    Maybe the Cubs starters are giving up runs in the first on purpose, in order to put pressure on their own offense to get things going?

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  6. Edwin

    So far the Brewers pitcher has pretty much just been laying it in over the plate. I doubt he gets past the 4th.

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  7. dmick89

    Butler has 5 walks today. Last year, Kershaw had 105 strikeouts and 5 walks through his first 11 games (86.2 innings). Granted, he was a little wild after that. he struckout 67 the rest of the way and walked 6.

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  8. dmick89


    What I’m trying to get at is that Butler’s control isn’t quite as good as Kershaw’s. Close, but just not as good. If I want someone to throw strikes, I’m probably going to lean toward Kershaw. That’s just me though.

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  9. Berselius is too lazy to login

    Butler has 5 walks today. Last year, Kershaw had 105 strikeouts and 5 walks through his first 11 games (86.2 innings). Granted, he was a little wild after that. he struckout 67 the rest of the way and walked 6.

    Maybe the Cubs can buy low on him. Happ and Candelario should get it down.

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  10. Author

    It’s unfortunate Butler didn’t get a shot to try for the quality start. He was almost halfway there.

    He was also Livin’ On A Prayer

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  11. cerulean

    Schwarber made a catch. An outside chance of a 4-star catch, but probably not. Even so, that was nice to see.

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  12. Myles

    I’m fairly confident the Cubs will score at least one more run, but it’d be nice if we could stop letting them score more runs. #analysis

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  13. Perkins

    Good thing Montgomery got a plate appearance there. I’d hate to think the Cubs could still have had a lead right now.

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  14. JKV

    At the beginning of the year, I thought Schwarber looked completely locked in. Now he’s taking 4 seamers down the middle. It’s weird. He’s getting fastballs above his belt and can’t do anything with them.

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  15. dmick89


    He looks almost useless at the plate. He’s still good for the occasional home run and can take a walk, but it comes at the expense of taking pitches he should be hitting 500 feet. He’s not alone though. Contreras, Russell, Rizzo and Heyward are looking useless too.

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  16. cerulean

    The people calling the game are a joke. It’s ridiculous that they can’t get a game in. Yesterday, it was ridiculous that they continued the game when a small delay would have made the game better and safer. I have access to radar. It’s not hard to anticipate and plan to take advantage of windows of opportunity. WTF!?

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  17. cerulean

    I enjoyed reading about Thames and boredom. It underscores how ridiculous it was that Bosio and Lackey cast unfounded PED aspersions on his performance. I hope Epstein game them an earful about that. The only things Thames seems guilty of are Performance Enhancing Development and Performance Enhancing Discipline.

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  18. Berselius is too lazy to login

    Terrible timing by Mother Nature – the Cubs can’t even use this off day as a chance to skip Butler in the rotation.

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  19. Berselius is too lazy to login

    To-day’s base ball squadron

    2B Zobrist
    LF War Bear
    3B Bryant
    1B Rizzo
    CF Happ
    RF Heyward
    C Contreras
    SS Russell
    P Carrieta

    Joe mixing it up a bit, though I don’t think moving Schwarber to the second spot is what anyone else had in mind.

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  20. Berselius is too lazy to login

    So much for the news I saw about Braun’s calf strain keeping him out until June (dying laughing)

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  21. Berselius is too lazy to login

    Jake seems to have forgotten that Cubs starters are contractually obligated to give up first inning runs.

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  22. Perkins


    I had the 6th, though I expected two other long innings before he fell apart so there’s still time for me to be right.

    They need a couple more runs to Arrieta-proof this lead.

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  23. cerulean

    ~ Come & See ~
    the FABULOUS
    > Jake Arrieta <
    — Kris Bryant —

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