It is a showdown of NL Central teams on Sunday Night Baseball when the Milwaukee Brewers (24-17) take on the Chicago Cubs (23-14) at Wrigley Field. These two teams both know all too well that every win matters as they had to play a tiebreaker last season to determine who the NL Central champion was, an honor that was eventually won by the Brewers. They also know each other all too well because they almost played “two games” on Sunday as their game finished on a Willson Contreras solo home run in the bottom of the 15th inning Saturday to give the Cubs a 2-1 win.
After the Brewers won Friday, Sunday will be the rubber match of this three-game series. On the mound for the Brewers will be righty Jhoulys Chacin (3-3, 5.03 ERA). On the other side will be the Cubs’ Jon Lester (2-1, 1.41 ERA). First pitch for this contest is scheduled for 7:08 pm ET.
The moneyline for Sunday’s game is set at the Milwaukee Brewers +125 and the Chicago Cubs -135.
By The Numbers
Offensively, the Chicago Cubs have been the more productive of the two teams. They currently rank 2nd in the majors in runs scored, averaging 5.56 per game. Despite this high total, they are actually only averaging 4.53 at home. The Brewers come in at 13th with an average of 4.92 runs per game. On the road, that number decreases to 4.44.
On the pitching side, it is also the Cubs’ staff that gets the nod. They currently rank 4th in team earned run average at 3.66. Their home earned run average actually ranks best among all ball clubs at 2.65. For Milwaukee, they come in at 18th with a 4.46 ERA. That number has been slightly worse on the road at 4.70.
Milwaukee Looks For First-Place Tie
In a division that will likely be tight all year long with the Brewers, Cubs, and St. Louis Cardinals having solid teams, Milwaukee knows that these games will matter come the end of the season. That is why losing in the 15th inning on Saturday has to be so deflating for the organization. Still, the show must go on, and they will hand the ball to Jhoulys Chacin on Sunday.
On the season, Chacin is 3-3 in 8 starts with a 5.03 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and opponents are hitting .214 against him. In 39.1 innings, he has allowed 30 hits, 22 earned runs, eight home runs and has struck out 29 versus 20 walks. In his last outing, a 5-3 win over the Washington Nationals, Chacin went 5 innings, allowing three hits, two walks, two earned runs and struck out three.
On the offensive side, there are a handful of players who have seen the Cubs’ starter Jon Lester several times with some success. Ryan Braun is hitting .412 against him over 17 at-bats. Additionally, Lorenzo Cain is hitting .429 over 14 at-bats. Christian Yelich is also 3 for 9 against him.
Speaking of Yelich, he has slowed down a bit from his torrid April, but he is still having a phenomenal season. Thus far, he is hitting .341/.455/.762 with 16 home runs, 37 runs batted in and 32 runs scored. He will look to continue his solid first quarter of the season on the bright lights of Sunday Night Baseball.
Cubs Red Hot After Slow Start
In the first couple weeks of the season, many Cubs fans were panicking and clamoring for a change from the managerial position. What have they done recently? Well, they have won 19 of their last 25 and hold sole possession of first place in the NL Central. It has been a mixture of both sides of the field, but the pitching has been solid.
One pitcher in particular who has had a nice start to the season is Jon Lester. Thus far, Lester is 2-1 in 6 starts with a 1.41 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and is holding opponents to just a .213 batting average. In 32 innings, he has allowed 26 hits, just five earned runs, three home runs and has struck out 33 while walking just seven. He will look to continue this solid start against Milwaukee Sunday.
Offensively, several players have performed well, but Javier Baez and Willson Contreras stick out as the most significant. On the season, Baez is hitting .316/.351/.620 with 11 home runs, 28 runs batted in and 31 runs scored. That obviously goes along with his stellar defense in the field. After his walk-off Saturday, Contreras is now hitting .315/.430/.640 with 10 home runs, 23 runs batted in and 23 runs scored.
Cubs Take The Series
This one comes down to the pitching. Simply put, I trust Jon Lester a whole lot more than I do Jhoulys Chacin in this one. Lester has pitched like the dominant ace he established himself as many years ago in Boston, and the Cubs have been one of the hottest teams in baseball for weeks.
One player to keep an eye out for on the Cubs is Anthony Rizzo, who has gotten to Jhoulys Chacin a couple of times for home runs. Still, I think it will be a group effort Sunday night, and the Cubs end up taking this in a relatively close one. It is hard to count the Brewers out, but for my money, I am taking Chicago at -135.