Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Series Preview: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers, June 8-10, 2010

Series Preview
As a former resident of Milwaukee, I came to really enjoy when the Cubs play the Brewers (or at play in Miller Park).  Brewers fans are like a more naive version of Cubs fans with even shorter fuses and tolerence for their players (See: Corey Hart, Mat Gamel, JJ Hardy, anyone that's ever pitched there not named CC Sabbathia).  At 5-1 on the season against the Brewers so far, apparently the Cubs really like playing Milwaukee as well.

The Brewers have been struggling a lot this year, even when compared to our ballclub.  Outside of their ace, Gallardo, the pitching staff lacks an identity.  The team just dumped Jeff Suppan (about 2 years too late...).  The bullpen is even worse, with future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman unable to nail a game down they Crew has turned their hopes to journeyman John Axford to close out games.  The Cubs hope to continue these woes and get themselves back on track as well.

The Matchups

Tuesday, June 8, 2010: Ted Lilly (1-5, 3.61) vs. Yovani Gallardo (6-2, 2.64)
Whenever I think of Yovani Gallardo, all I can think of is the billboard of him near my old place telling me in Spanish to get my swine flu vaccination.  He may not have swine flu, but he is pitching like he's got something lately.  Over his last 10 starts, Gallardo has gone 6-0 with a 1.86 ERA.  Much of this success can be attributed to the fact he is walking fewer batters and staying in the zone.  Gallardo really is an "ace" with good stuff so long as he can control it.  The best way to get at him is by forcing him to come out of the stretch with men on base and by working the count in order to get his pitch count up (and hopefully, him out of the game earlier)

Lilly has been pretty good lately as well, producing five straight quality starts.  His last outing against the Pirates seemed to be smooth sailing until he was bit by a Neil Walker home run in the eighth inning and handed the loss.  Regardless, Lilly has looked better and better in each successive start.  I expect to see more of the same out of him in Milwaukee.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010: Carlos Zambrano (1-4, 6.14) vs. Randy Wolf (4-5, 4.66)
The Wolf Pack has really been off his game this season.  Most of the struggles he has stems from the fact that his walk rate is much higher this year.  Despite only issuing 1.7 free passes a game last year, he has walked at least four batters in three of his last four starts.  While most teams would see a pitcher like Wolf and pounce on the opportunity to face him at this juncture, the crafty lefty is one of those guys that always seems to give Cubs hitters fits.  Hopefully Jaramillo preaches patience Wednesday night.

Big Z likes to pitch in Milwaukee.  Hopefully he can continue his success in the ballpark in his second start since coming out of his bullpen role.  I personally think there are going to be some growing pains, just as there were with Lilly coming back, but that Z will get a little bit better each start.  I guess we will see if my prediction is correct on Wednesday.

Thursday, June 10, 2010: Ryan Dempster (4-5, 3.76) vs. Dave Bush (1-5, 4.97)
Dave Bush makes me smile when I see him as a probable.  He was taken out of the rotation last week, and then put back in it this week after the Suppan DFA.  When I think of Bush, I think of the home run ball.  I think someone is going to win $1000 from the back to back jacks game on Thursday.  Just a prediction.

Dempster is coming off a quality start and some actual run support that finally let him get a W.  It seems that the home run ball is also back to being relevant for Ryan, so it will be key for him to avoid walks during the game.  Honestly, this game has the makings of a home run derby 10-9 type game.

Conclusion
I think the Cubs take 2/3.  I like our pitching over theirs, and their pitching is "good" enough to let us run into a few runs.

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