The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs are already very familiar with each other in 2020 as they face off for the sixth time in three weeks on Saturday at Wrigley Field. The contest was originally scheduled to be a night game but was moved to a 2:20 p.m. local time start on Friday with inclement weather expected for Chicago Saturday night.
Right-hander Adrian Houser takes the ball for the Brewers while Colin Rea makes his first MLB start in four years for Chicago.
The Cubs took two of three from Milwaukee to start the season and beat the Brewers 4-2 Thursday night. Milwaukee, held to two runs or less in each of their losses, beat the Cubs 8-3 July 25 and 4-3 Friday night as Christian Yelich hit a three-run homer. Last year the Brewers won the season series 10-9, but they were just 3-6 at Wrigley Field.
Milwaukee Brewers Outlook: Get the Bats Going
The 8-10 Brewers bats have yet to show up in 2020, with even former NL MVP Christian Yelich struggling at .172/.284/.469. OF Ryan Braun could return to action while OF Ben Gamel is batting .154/.200/.346, 3B Brock Holt is at .125/.241/.125, and Justin Smoak is at .220/.266/.390. Of the regular starters, only SS Orlando Arcia is batting over .250.
On the flip side, the bullpen has been excellent, led by closer Josh Hader who hasn’t allowed a run while securing four saves. Relievers Eric Yardley, David Phelps, and Devin Williams all have at least six appearances and ERA’s under 1.50.
Houser is 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA in his three starts this season, and he’s gone at least five innings in all three outings. Last year he faced the Cubs twice with a loss in August and a no-decision in September.
In those two outings, he allowed seven runs on 13 hits over nine innings while striking out 11 and allowing homers to Jayson Heyward and Kyle Schwarber. Houser has eight career innings at Wrigley Field with six earned runs allowed on 13 hits while also allowing a home run to Kris Byrant.
Chicago Cubs Outlook: Bounce Back
The Cubs are off to the best start in baseball at 13-4 on the strength of their pitching. Their five starters are 12-4 with a 2.85 ERA. But on Saturday they won’t have a traditional starter as Rea takes the mound after Tyler Chatwood was scratched and Alec Mills moved up a day, taking the loss Friday.
The bullpen has struggled though new closer Rowan Wick and setup man Jeremy Jeffress have settled things a bit in the last week.
The offense is middle of the pack in the NL and overall a mixed bag. Among the highlights are OF Ian Happ at .300/.435/.560, C Willson Contreras at .259/.328/.563 and Heyward at .277/.340/.447. Anthony Rizzo leads the team with four homers, along with Bryant, Schwarber, and Javy Baez are all batting under .240.
Rea has logged just three MLB innings since 2016 with two outings this season and three shutout innings. He struck out one over two innings on Tuesday in Cleveland and allowed one hit. Rea’s last start came on July 30, 2016, and he left that contest with elbow soreness.
Milwaukee Brewers/Chicago Cubs Betting Lines
Milwaukee Brewers to win: -105
Chicago Cubs to win: -105
Over/Under: 8 runs (O +110, U -110)
The Brewers have the advantage in starting pitchers, but Wrigley has not been kind to Houser in his career. The Cubs, who have just two home losses in 2020, can use their bats and bullpen to secure another win over the Brewers before they get ready for the series finale and five home games in three days against the St. Louis Cardinals.
FREE PICK: Cubs to win (-105)