It is officially October, and here we are playing baseball! The regular season was a wild one and entering play yesterday for game 162 we had a tie atop both the National League Central and the National League West Divisions. All four teams managed to pick up wins, and now we will have an unprecedented two one-game playoffs to decide both division titles! In this article, we will focus in on the early game in the Central Division, where the Milwaukee Brewers play the Chicago Cubs.
The Milwaukee Brewers are in Chicago Monday for a one-game playoff to decide the National League Central Division race. The Brewers finished the season on an absolute tear as they had won seven straight and nine out of ten to close out the regular season. The Cubs played slightly worse down the stretch, winning six out of nine, and let the Milwaukee Brewers catch them from behind on the season’s last weekend.
Starting for the Brewers is Jhoulys Chacin (15-8 3.45 ERA), and for the Cubs, it is Jose Quintana (13-11 4.09 ERA). The Cubs are -123 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight runs. First pitch is scheduled for 10:05 AM PST from Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Game 163. Two of the best words in all of baseball. We don’t get too see them too often, but when we do, the stakes couldn’t be higher. And this one probably shouldn’t have even happened as the Brewers trailed Chicago for the Central Division lead for months and caught them at just the last minute to force the playoff. The winner of this game will go on to host the winner of the National League wild-card game and have home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. The loser of this game will host that one-game playoff against the loser of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies game later this afternoon.
When you are looking to handicap a game like this one, the home team is almost always going to be the favorite. It is just hard, historically, to win a deciding game like this one, on the road. And that is why I believe the Cubs are favored today. If you look at the starting pitching matchup, I would lean towards Chacin, and it is hard not to like a Milwaukee team that has been red-hot recently. So, the fact that the game is in Chicago is likely what has kept the Cubs as the favorites.
Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin has been really great this season for Milwaukee. In seventeen of his thirty-four starts this season, Chacin has allowed one run or fewer. That is amazing, in half of all his starts he has completely shut the other team down. Chacin has bounced around a little bit in his career as he has played for six different teams and on his fifth team in three years, before joining the Brewers this season and he feels right at home in Milwaukee as he won a career-high fifteen games this season.
Chacin has seen these Cubs several times this season and has pitched pretty well against Chicago. In four starts against the Cubs this season, Chacin has pitched a combined twenty-two and two-thirds of an inning and has allowed just four earned runs. The Brewers seemed to be holding Chacin back a bit in September as he pitched five innings or less in all five starts, but I expect Milwaukee to let him pitch tonight in a do or die situation on the road.
The Cubs will turn to Jose Quintana to try and take care of business at home. Quintana has been his normal decent self this season. He generally hangs right around .500 and eats up lots of innings, and that is just what he has done this season for the Cubs. He has pitched against Milwaukee twice in September and walked away with wins both times as he pitched thirteen and a third innings and allowed just two earned runs.
I am going on record right now and saying that no matter what happens in the other one-game playoff between the Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers, that I think the Brewers and the Cubs just aren’t done playing each other this season. I expect whoever loses this game to get right back into the playoffs with a wild-card win. These are the two teams with the best records in the National League, and they will be playing the wild-card game at home, and I just feel like these teams are too much fun to watch to have it end after just one game.
So, who am I going to take today in this one? The Milwaukee Brewers. I just can’t deny how good this team has been since they made a big splash in the trade markets. Both at the Jul 31st waiver deadline and the August 31st roster deadline this team made several moves. The Brewers pulled out all the stops and went out and got the best players that were available to them and made their team better.
Since they made those moves, they are 19-7, one of the best records in all of baseball down the stretch. I think they stay hot today and upset Chicago on their own field. The fact that I get to pick up a little dog money along the way is just a little extra cherry on top of what I see as the right side to be on. Give me the Milwaukee Brewers as road underdogs in game 163 from Wrigley Field at +113!