Remember the Brewers?
The Cubs haven’t played the Brewers in nearly two months, and they just might be the perfect opponent for them to come home to after a disappointing roadtrip. Milwaukee is one of only three NL teams the Cubs have posted a winning record against this season (even though they lost their last series to them). Chew on this little stat: in 9 games against the Brewers the Cubs have scored 62 runs, while in 22 games they’ve played against the Reds and Pirates they’ve managed to score 67 runs. Nice split.
The Brewers are a pedestrian 5-5 over their last 10 games, but oh have they had fun getting to that mark. From July 22 to July 26 they won five straight games to just barely creep within a relevant “games behind” number (8) of first place while playing the Reds. But then they went to customer service and returned those five wins by going on a five game losing streak. So get excited, someone’s five game skid is getting ended tonight!
There are some other interesting things that have been going on with our good friends from up North since the last time the Cubs saw them. One is Rickie Weeks continuing his ascent to becoming one of the most valuable second baseman in baseball. Who would you guess has posted the highest WAR among NL second baseman this year, Martin Prado? Brandon Phillips? Okay, so I kind of gave it away earlier in the paragraph but the answer is Rickie Weeks with 4 WAR. He’s been the second most valuable second baseman in baseball behind Robinson Cano this season (5 WAR).
While he still strikes out a ton he’s hitting for a lot of power and has improved his walk rate slightly. He was having a great 2009 before being limited to 37 because of injury with a slash line of .272/.340/.517 but doing so with a .313 BABIP. This season he’s hitting for better average, getting on base more and the owner of a .380 wOBA but yet again his BABIP is still high at .330. He’s had a +.300 BABIP in four out of seven seasons so maybe that’s just an adjusted figure for him. Regardless, Weeks has finally panned out for the Brewers after an ominous, injury-plagued start to his career.
Yovani Gallardo has similarly shown that 2009 was not a fluke and continued to establish himself as an elite starter in the National League. He’s improved his control (nearly a walk less per 9 innings) and kept the ball in the park more this year which has added up to a sparkling 2.77 ERA and an even more impressive 2.92 FIP. Lucky for the Cubs they’ll see him tonight in the series opener.
The Brewers have some legitimate building blocks in place with Gallardo under team control until 2014, Ryan Braun until 2015 and after signing an extension today, Corey Hart until 2013. If they can lock up Weeks they should be set with enough offensive pieces to really ponder moving Fielder for some pitching help. Milwaukee is a team with holes in two giant places (general pitching, defense) but I think the team that’ll take the field against the Cubs tonight is closer to realistically contending then the Cubs are.