The Cubs and Brewers collide
The Cubs and the Brewers will continue their four-game series Saturday. A few emails back, this newsletter pointed out that the very different beginnings for the Nationals and Mets created grounds for meaningful April games. The newsletter reminded its readership that April games count as much as September games. The Mets were rolling over opponents, and the Nationals were stumbling through multiple losing streaks. The pair met up for a series in which the Nationals were able to cut into some of New York’s division lead. Now, the Cubs and the Brewers face a similar situation.
The Brewers are hot, winning eight games in a row before this series -- largely because their starting rotation has performed in a way the Cubs’ hasn’t. During that eight-game stretch, Brewers pitchers have conceded only 14 runs. In the Cubs’ previous eight games, meanwhile, they’ve allowed 39 runs. In the rotation, only Jon Lester is performing at his established levels. Cubs pitching as a whole has been on the downturn for three years, and the newcomers added to stave off further freefall haven’t produced as advertised this month. Premium signee Yu Darvish, in the first year of a six-year $126 million deal, is pitching to a 5.02 FIP. He’s also allowed a .327 BABIP, the highest of his career next to only 2014. This is the modest silver lining for other members of the Cubs staff right now: they’ve been victims of fortune.
If and when that works itself out, the Cubs offense is waiting and ready, producing the ninth-most runs in the majors. The Brewers, on the other hand, weren’t projected to do as well as they have been so far, and though we certainly have seen teams overperform across the course of a season, it certainly is difficult to maintain production at the ceiling. The Brewers’ pitching staff and new additions like Christian Yelich might be able to hold the Cubs off from super-team status. But the Cubs don’t have to change much for wins to start coming, and the Brewers have to keep counting on more volatile cogs to remain in place.