CHICAGO CUBS (85-67)
at MILWAUKEE BREWERS (81-72)
First pitch: Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
The Brewers will be trying to keep their playoff hopes alive with a win over the Cubs on Friday.
The Cubs and Brewers are battling for the top spot in the NL Central, but Chicago is kind of running away with this thing. The Cubs beat the Brewers in extra innings on Thursday and that win extended their lead in the division to 4.5 games. If Milwaukee is going to have any chance of making it to the postseason then the team will probably need to win these next three games against Chicago. There is not much wiggle room with that either, as the Brewers only play nine more games this year. The starters in this meeting on Friday are going to be RHP John Lackey (11-11, 4.62 ERA, 144 K) for Chicago and RHP Brandon Woodruff (2-2, 3.28 ERA, 28 K) for Milwaukee. The Cubs are 35-19 against the money line over the past three seasons in road games versus starting pitchers that give up 0.5 or fewer homers per start. Milwaukee is, however, fortunate enough to be facing a Chicago team that is just 1-6 against the money line when Lackey is pitching against an NL team with a batting average of .250 or worse on the year.
The Cubs are probably one or two wins over the Brewers away from securing themselves a spot in the postseason, and you can only imagine how badly this team wants to repeat as World Series champs. It has not quite been the year that Chicago was hoping for, but all would be forgotten once the team makes it to the playoffs. From there, the Cubs will still have as good of a shot at winning as anybody. Lackey will be the guy tasked with earning them the win on Friday, and the righty was actually brilliant in his most recent start against Milwaukee. Chicago lost that game 2-0, but Lackey allowed only two earned runs in seven innings of work in that one. He struck out nine batters and the Cubs would definitely love another performance like that from him here. Offensively, the team will be counting on 3B Kris Bryant and 1B Anthony Rizzo to produce. Both guys came up big on Thursday, as Bryant was 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBI and Rizzo was 2-for-5 with a triple and an RBI.
The Brewers are going to be a very desperate team when they take the field on Friday, but they also could be a pretty broken one. Milwaukee was up 3-2 heading into the top of the ninth inning on Thursday, but the team was unable to close Chicago out. That type of loss can be very demoralizing for a team that needs wins to make it to the postseason right now. But the Brewers need to do their best to forget and do everything that they can to close this series out the right way. Brandon Woodruff will be the guy starting for Milwaukee in this one and the righty actually pitched pretty well in his last trip to the mound. He allowed just three earned in seven innings of work in a win over Miami. If he can turn in a quality start then he will have done his job here. On offense, it’ll be guys like OF Ryan Braun, 1B Eric Thames, and OF Domingo Santana that you’ll want to keep an eye on. It wouldn’t be surprising if any of the three had big games here.