MLB Game Preview - Chicago at Milwaukee
Fri Jul 26, 2019 8:10 PM EDT

COL
12
CIN
2
F
ATL
9
PHI
2
F
LAD
4
WAS
2
F
TB
3
TOR
1
F
ARI
2
MIA
3
F
PIT
3
NYM
6
F
NYY
5
BOS
10
F
CHC
2
MIL
3
F
MIN
6
CHW
2
F
HOU
3
STL
5
F
CLE
8
KC
3
F
TEX
5
OAK
2
F
BAL
9
LAA
3
F
SF
2
SD
1
F(11)
DET
2
SEA
3
F
Cubs, Brewers begin key head-to-head stretch
Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:26 PM

The Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers are getting ready to see a whole lot of each other.

Beginning with the Friday night series opener at Miller Park in Milwaukee, the teams will play six of their next nine games against each other. At stake are not only bragging rights in the I-94 rivalry, but possibly a National League Central title or a wild-card berth.

Chicago is tied for first place with the St. Louis Cardinals, both two games ahead of third-place Milwaukee. St. Louis, which joined the Cubs atop the division Thursday with a 6-3 win over the Pirates in Pittsburgh, has a combined 19 games remaining against the Cubs and Brewers, including a three-game set next week against Chicago at Busch Stadium.

But for now, the Cubs' focus is squarely on Milwaukee, which has fought injuries and inconsistency throughout 2019. However, the Brewers used a 5-4 win Wednesday in their series finale with the Cincinnati Reds to stay within striking distance and set up what should be a wild, loud weekend.

"It'll be fun," Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said to MLB.com of the series. "It's always fun in Milwaukee. You have the Brewers fans, a lot of Cubs fans, and the place is loud."

Neither team will be at full strength for the showdown. Chicago's Kris Bryant left a 4-1 win over the Giants in San Francisco on Wednesday due to right knee soreness, and the Cubs had to scratch Jon Lester before that game due to a fever. The Cubs still have lefty starter Cole Hamels (oblique) on the injured list, but regained catcher Willson Contreras on Wednesday after he recovered from a foot injury.

Milwaukee, meanwhile, is missing two-fifths of its rotation -- All-Star Brandon Woodruff and Jhoulys Chacin, both sidelined due to oblique injuries.

Center fielder Lorenzo Cain was shaken up Wednesday after hitting his left knee on the turf while making a play, but he said he would be able to play against the Cubs. Infielder Mike Moustakas was struck on the hand with a pitch but avoided serious injury.

The Brewers' Friday starter will be lefty Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 3.60 ERA), who has a track record of success against Chicago. In 11 career starts, he's 4-3 with a 2.81 ERA and 66 strikeouts over 67 1/3 innings.

Gonzalez lasted 73 pitches and four-plus innings Saturday at Arizona in his first start after a stint on the injured list, allowing five hits and three runs in Milwaukee's 8-3 win.

Kyle Hendricks (7-8, 3.41 ERA) will start for Chicago, looking to keep one trend going and buck another. Hendricks is 8-6 with a 3.22 ERA in 20 career starts against Milwaukee, but he is only 3-6 with a 5.44 ERA in nine road starts this year. He's coming off a 5-1 loss Sunday to San Diego despite permitting just four hits and two runs over seven innings.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell knows there's plenty of time left in the season, but also feels a sense of urgency this weekend.

"It's a big series this weekend, no question," he said. "We're not down to the wire, but it's an important series for sure. It's against the team that's ahead of us. We want to keep ourselves right there."

--Field Level Media

Team Record Comparison

Team Standings GB W-L Aw/Hm Stk L10
Chicago            
Milwaukee            

Scheduled Starting Pitchers

Kyle Hendricks - CHC
Matchup
Season
vs. Opp Has not pitched vs. Milwaukee
Gio Gonzalez - (N/A)
Matchup
Season
vs. Opp Has not pitched vs. Chicago

Hot Batters (Last 10 team games)

Injury Report