The Chicago Cubs are entering what may be their most important series of the season as they welcome the Milwaukee Brewers to Wrigley Field on Monday.
The Cubs would be in the playoffs if they started today, owning a two-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the wild card race, but their attentions will be focused on the Central Division, as they trail Milwaukee by four games entering Monday’s contest.
The Brewers have won eight consecutive games, and in the process they have raised their playoff chances to 97.4%, according to ESPN.
With that in mind, here is our preview of the first game of the three-game set.
Here is the Cubs’ lineup for Monday’s game:
1 Nico Hoerner – 2B
2 Dansby Swanson – SS
3 Ian Happ – LF
4 Cody Bellinger – CF
5 Seiya Suzuki – RF
6 Yan Gomes – C
7 Jeimer Candelario – 1B
8 Patrick Wisdom – DH
9 Nick Madrigal – 3B
Jameson Taillon will take the ball for the Cubs. He has largely rebounded for the Cubs in recent weeks, but is coming off of a tough conclusion to his last outing, giving up four earned runs in 5.2 innings against the Detroit Tigers.
We will post the Brewers’ lineup once they release it, but we do know that Wade Miley will take the ball for Milwaukee in the series opener.
Miley allowed four earned runs in five innings in his last outing against the Cubs, but has largely been strong outside of that, allowing three or fewer earned runs in nine of his last 10 starts, including three that he gave up in his last outing against the Minnesota Twins.
In 17 career appearances against the Cubs, Miley has posted a 9-4 record and a 4.01 ERA, striking out 90 batters and walking 32 in 101 innings of work.
The Brewers are 4-3 against the Cubs so far this season, with the two teams splitting their most recent series up in Milwaukee. The Cubs captured one-run wins on July 4 and 5, while the Brewers captured a one-run win of their own on July 6.
Players to Watch:
-Dansby Swanson has not been having the best week of his career, but he has been electric against the Brewers so far this season. In seven games, he has three extra-base hits and 11 in all in 27 plate appearances, with a pair of walks to boot.
-Ian Happ’s plate discipline has been a key in his successes against Milwaukee this year, with nine walks contributing to a .484 on-base percentage in 31 plate appearances.
-Cody Bellinger has racked up 53 RBI’s since July 1, the most in Major League Baseball during that time.
-After a long cold spell, Seiya Suzuki may finally be starting to heat up, as he’s posted a .444 batting average, with seven extra-base hits and five RBI’s in his last seven games.
The Rest of the Series:
The Brewers will send Corbin Burnes to the mound on Tuesday, where he will be opposed by Chicago’s Justin Steele.
The series finale at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday will feature Kyle Hendricks going up against Brandon Woodruff.