The Chicago Cubs will travel to Milwaukee Monday for game one of a three-game series with the Brewers. Only a half of a game separates the two teams for first place in the National League Central Division. The Cubs have really started to heat up recently and have won eight of their last ten games. The Brewers have cooled just a little bit as they have lost five of eight after winning fifteen out of twenty to wrap up the month of May.
Starting tonight for the Brewers is Junior Guerra (3-4 2.83 ERA), and for the Cubs, it is Jose Quintana (6-4 4.20 ERA). The Cubs are -118 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 PM PST from Miler Park in Milwaukee.
The Chicago Cubs are finally starting to find ways to string wins together after an up and down start to the season. Chicago has now won five straight series and they have their eyes set on the best record in the National League. In fact, the only team that has a better winning percentage in the National League than the Cubs this year is the Milwaukee Brewers. The Central Division crown feels like one that is going to come down to a game or two, so all these games are going to be big the rest of the way out.
Starting tonight for the Cubs is Jose Quintana. Quintana has put together a solid record with six wins. But that good record has been more of a function of the Cubs lineup scoring a bunch of runs than it has been him being an elite pitcher this season. That’s not to imply that Quintana hasn’t pitched well at times this year, he has. But he has been very hot and cold this season, and more times than not, it has been this Cubs lineup that has been there to score a bunch of runs and bail him out. Quintana was lights out against Milwaukee in his one start against them this season, as he pitched seven shutout innings against the Brew Crew and allowed just two hits in the Chicago win.
Starting for the Brewers is Junior Guerra. Guerra has pitched very well this season. His 2.83 ERA is good for top ten in the National League, and he has been a big reason why the Brewers have managed to hang on to first place for so long. The problem with Guerra is the exact opposite of what the Cubs are doing for Quintana. They just don’t score too many runs for Guerra pitches. After starting out the season 2-0, Guerra is now 1-4 as the Brewers just aren’t getting him enough runs to win games.
I have said it a million times. Baseball is a game all about streaks. Right now, the Cubs are on fire. Their recent win streak has been against the who’s who of the National League. They took series from the Pirates twice, the Phillies, and the Giants over this recent hot stretch and they are gaining more confidence with every win. This is not a team I want to be trying to fade right now until they cool down a bit.
Sometimes it is hard to explain, but certain teams score for certain starters and not others. The Cubs love to score for Quintana this season. In the eight games where Quintana started this season and the Cubs won, they have scored him sixty-four runs of support. That is eight runs a game. No wonder he is winning so many games this season. The opposite has been the case for Guerra.
Guerra has been a hard-luck loser several times this season. Like in his one start against the Cubs where he pitched six innings of one-run ball, and they lost. Or against the Indians when he had a quality six-inning start against the Indians and came up short. Or against the Twins where he worked into the fifth inning and allowed just one run, and once again lost. Every year there are a couple of guys that just can’t seem to get runs scored for them, this year, Junior Guerra is one of those guys.
This game will likely be a close one. I feel that it will be a lower scoring affair where the Cubs find a way to win the game late. This feels like a 4-2 game with the Cubs taking the win, and first place in the National League Central that goes with it. I will back the much hotter team tonight and expect them to take the series lead in game one. Give me the Chicago Cubs as small road favorites tonight in Milwaukee.