Mother nature finished off her punishment of the Chicago Cubs last night when she wreaked havoc yet again and caused the cancelation of the Cubs game against the Washington Nationals. It was the second time this week that we had a bet rained out in that series and I am glad to be leaving Washington. In the end, the two teams played three games, with the Nats taking two out of three, and all the delays have left this Cubs rotation a mess as they head into the biggest series of the year this week. For today’s pick I will follow the Cubs as they head home to host the Milwaukee Brewers in a huge showdown.
What might be the biggest series of the year for the National League Central Division kicks off today as the Milwaukee Brewers play the Chicago Cubs. The Brewers hit this series on fire, having won nine out of their last eleven games. That stretch included taking two out of three from the Cubs last week, and with that run, they have closed the gap between themselves and the Cubs for first place to just two games as this series starts tonight.
The Cubs are trying get their bearings back as they spent the weekend sitting long hours in the rain waiting for games to start. Some of them did, others did not, and in the end, the road trip to Washington was basically a disaster. The Cubs will try and get heir rotation set back up tonight against the Brewers.
Starting for the Cubs is Jon Lester (15-5 3.53 ERA) who hasn’t made a start since September 2nd, and for the Brewer it is Wade Miley (3-2 2.12 ERA). The Cubs are -133 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight runs. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 PM PST from Wrigley Field in Chicago.
The Milwaukee Brewers loaded up with trades this season and it is really showing. Not only did they use standard trads to pick up Johnathan Schoop and Mike Moustakas, they used waiver trades to aquire even more talent. They picked up Gio Gonzalez, Xavier Cedeno, and Curtis Granderson just before the roster deadline. They made a commitment to winning a division title this year and since those trades, have won six out of their last eight games.
Wade Miley is a guy that has certainly helped the Brewers as they seek a division title. Since joining the rotation in mid-July, Miley has pitched out of his mind. Miley has a 2.12 ERA in twelve starts. The Brewers are 8-4 in games where Miley takes the mound. Miley’s last start was against these very same Cubs, and he had one of the best starts of the season. Miley pitched six innings and allowed just one run on three hits. The Brewers won 11-1.
Jon Lester has had a strange season this year. He started out looking amazing, hit a summer wall where he was terrible, and now appears to be getting his act back together against as the Cubs look to hold off the Brewers for the division title. Lester has had a longer than usual layoff as his last start got rained out and the Cubs decided to bump him to keep him fresh for this series. It will be interesting to see how Lester handles the change in routine against this streaking Brewers team.
This is a huge series for both teams. If the Brewers were to sweep, they would leave Chicago in first place with just a handful of games left on the schedule. If the Cubs were to sweep they would have a five-game lead that would likely lock up the division title for them. So, it is hard to overstate just how important this series is to both teams.
I made the claim at the September 1st roster deadline that the Brewers would make a run and win the Central Division title, and I am sticking with that claim. I think this Brewers team is just the better squad at this point. They took two out of three from the Cubs last week and the Cubs then went to Washington and sat in a rainy dugout all weekend and I think they are just going to come out flat.
It is hard to expect Wade Miley to keep up the pace he has set, but I have been saying that for two months now and he just keeps on getting better. At some point he will probably come back to the world, but until that happens, I have no choice but to jump on the bandwagon until it runs out of steam. And with Lester, he just can’t seem to stay consistent enough to be trusted right now.
In four of his last eight starts, Lester has allowed four runs or more, twice allowing eight runs. It’s not that he has been terrible every start, he has just been prone to blowing up. All that uncertainty has led me to want to back the Brewers in this one. I just think they have a lot of swagger right now and I see them finding a way to win this game. The fact that I get to back them and pick up a bunch of dog money is an added bonus. Give me the Milwaukee Brewers as big road underdogs at +123 tonight in game one.