Milwaukee Brewers vs Chicago Cubs - Predictions, Odds & Picks
- The Cubs are close to a crossroads, whether it’s time to go for another run at the title or rebuild
- Despite a payroll reduction, Brewers are in win-now mode behind Christian Yelich
- 16 of 19 meetings last year between the two were won by at least two runs
|What||Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs|
|Where||Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL|
|When||Saturday, July 25, 2020, 1:05 PM EST|
|How to Watch||FOX|
The Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers have been one of the better rivalries in baseball the past handful of years. These are still two teams with playoff aspirations, but it’s not unreasonable to think one or both of these squads could take a step back.
The Cubs faded down the stretch as much as any team in baseball last season, going 11-16 in September, their worst record of any month in 2019. It became clear their starting rotation wasn’t deep enough, the bullpen didn’t have enough firepower and the outfield was subpar. Each of these areas was supposed to be points of emphasis in the offseason.
So what did Theo Epstein do to address it? Signed Stephen DeSouza Jr. for $1 million. That’s it. That was the biggest signing of the entire offseason. Outside of the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox for their sign stealing scandal, the Cubs likely had the worst offseason of any club.
If there was a close second, it was probably the Brewers. Milwaukee GM David Stearns had a tough task to cut payroll and keep the team relevant. He did a decent job, signing Luis Urias, Avisail Garcia, and Eric Sogard but the latter two cashed in on above average seasons in 2019 and their consistent production at that level is questionable.
Additionally, seeing Yasmani Grandal, Mike Moustakas, Zach Davies, Gio González, Drew Pomeranz, and Jordan Lyles all leave is a big blow.
Odds taken from BetMGM
Lineups the Strength
The Cubs have many pieces from the World Series team with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, and Kyle Schwarber anchoring the top of the lineup. Bryant leading off is something to get used to, but new manager David Ross seems to like it and players have proven they can be key pieces to a championship team.
On the other side, Christian Yelich is a top-five player in baseball, Lorenzo Cain is a dominant two-way performer, former top-10 pick Keston Hiura showed pop in his rookie year in 2019 and moving Ryan Braun to DH could help take some wear and tear off the aging former star.
Kyle Hendricks stole the show, shutting down the Brewers lineup with surprising ease. Hendricks threw a complete-game shutout, giving up just three hits while striking out nine batters. All three hits came from nine-hitter Orlando Arcia.
On the other side, a two-run bomb by Ian Happ and a solo shot by Anthony Rizzo provided all three runs of the Cubs offense.
The starters are two names to watch in 2019: Yu Darvish and Corbin Burnes. Darvish was outstanding against Milwaukee last year, striking out 15 and giving up just one run in two starts.
That matched his dominant second half of 2019, where he had a 2.76 ERA in 81.2 innings with 118 strikeouts and just seven walks. Those numbers are why he’s been talked about as a dark horse Cy Young candidate, but as a flyball pitcher, he has to keep the ball in the ballpark.
Burnes looked like the real deal as a rookie in 2018 coming out of the bullpen: going 7-0 with a 2.61 ERA and 1.000 WHIP, striking out 35 batters in 38 innings of work. After recording his first nine outs in 2019 via the strikeout, the wheels came off, giving up 3.1 home runs per nine innings and struggling to a 1-5 record, with an 8.82 ERA and multiple trips to the minor leagues.
He looked much better in spring and summer ball, however, going 12-up-12-down in an intrasquad game that saw him reach 98 mph on the radar gun.
Often times between rivals, games come down to one pitch. One decision. One swing of the bat. That wasn’t the case in 2019 when it often felt as if one team showed up and the other did not.
More than half of the games were decided by three runs or more, while only three games were won by a single run. For perspective, the Brewers had 45 games decided by one run on the year and the Cubs had 46 — which is more than 27% of contests for each. At that rate, approximately 5-6 games of this matchup should have been decided by one run.
Bullpen Advantage Milwaukee
Why does that matter that games weren’t decided by close margins? Because the Brewers went 27-18 in one run games while the Cubs went 19-27. Closer games would’ve benefitted Milwaukee, which had the better bullpen. The Brewers relievers combined for a 4.1 WAR in 2019 while the Cubs bullpen had a 1.3 WAR. Not to mention Chicago blew 28 saves in 2019 – fourth-most in the league – and walked a league-high 11.2% of batters.
As mentioned before, the Cubs did nothing to improve their bullpen in the offseason
After hitting the over in the first two games in 2019 with 45 combined runs, these opponents went under in eight of their next nine meetings and 13 of 19 meetings on the season. They also went under yesterday.
The under has hit in 14 of the past 18 games, but even with that trend, it feels too risky with a question mark like Barnes on the mound. Not every bet has to be the big payout – consistency is key. We like the Cubs money line in this one.
Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.