The Milwaukee Brewers were 23-16 through May 8 and second place in the NL Central. They face the Cubs in the weekend series. The Cubs are 22-13 and 13-5 at home. Jhoulys Chacin is set to pitch for the Brewers and Jon Lester is scheduled to start for the Cubs.
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The Brewers are led by MVP candidate Christian Yelich, who is on a torrid pace through the first quarter of the season. He’s batting .356 with 16 home runs and 37 RBI. Mike Moustakas has hit nine home runs with 24 RBI and veteran Ryan Braun has a respectable seven home runs and 22 RBI. Catcher Yasmani Grandal has added six home runs to an attack that has hit 65 home runs and averaging 4.9 runs per game.
The Cubs have been offensive juggernauts, averaging 5.8 runs per game. The trio of Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Wilson Contreras have combined to hit 29 home runs and knock in 77 runs. Baez and Contreras are both hitting over .300, while Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward have each hit six home runs and combined to knock in 31.
Jhoulys Chacin has a 5.03 ERA so far this season and has walked 20 and given up eight home runs in 39 1/3 innings. This could be bad news against a Chicago lineup averaging nearly six runs per game. If Chacin can get the job done through the middle innings, Junior Guerra and Josh Hader have been very good. Guerra has allowed only five earned runs in 21 1/3 innings and Hader has saved 10 with an ERA under three. As a team, the Brewers have allowed 4.8 runs per game.
Jon Lester is off to a great start, posting a 1.41 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 32 innings. Several members of the bullpen have been pitching well. Brad Brach has an ERA of 2.40 in 15 innings. Steve Cishek and Brandon Kintzler have combined to strike out 36 and post a 2.67 in 33 2/3 innings. The team has allowed only 4.2 runs per game.
The is looking much like a high scoring game for the Cubs, likely with several home runs, given Chacin’s propensity for giving up the long ball. Milwaukee clearly has the ability to stay with the Cubs offensively, but the major issue is doing so against Lester, who has been tough to score against. Look for the Cubs to score in the neighborhood of 6 or 7 runs, defeating the Brewers by three runs. If considering betting the “over/under”, lean “over” or avoid, but don’t bet the under.