After a scheduled day off on Thursday, the Chicago Cubs (19-32) return to action tonight, taking on the Milwaukee Brewers (32-22) at Miller Park. The series encompasses the best and worst the National League Central has to offer, as Milwaukee has maintained a lead over St. Louis in the division throughout the month of May, while Chicago has the league’s worst winning percentage.
The Cubs’ offense has been near-silent of late, entering play with a 20-inning scoreless streak to its name. The only position player who has been hot of late is catcher Welington Castillo, who is 6-for-16 over the past week, with two home runs and 6 RBIs. He’ll be an important player to watch this weekend, but will need help from the likes of Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Mike Olt if the team is going to be competitive against the Brew Crew.
Here’s a look at the pitching matchups for the three-game weekend series in Milwaukee:
Game One: 7:10 p.m. CT first pitch – 5/30, TV: WGN – Radio: WGN 720 AM
Estrada has been plagued by the long-ball this year, allowing four in his last start and 16 on the season – the most among big league pitchers. This season, Estrada has made two starts against Chicago and is 1-1 with a 4.97 earned run average. In a combined 12 2/3 innings of work facing the Cubs, he’s allowed seven earned runs, but Chicago hitters are hitting just .224.
Wood, who has not yet faced Milwaukee this season, has made nine career starts against the Brewers, amassing a 4-3 clip and a respectable 3.68 ERA. The 2013 National League All-Star will look to rebound after a shaky month of May, in which he has won four games, but has an earned run average north of 5.00.
Game Two: 3:10 p.m. CT first pitch – 5/31, TV: CSN – Radio: WGN 720 AM
Hammel has been impressive for Chicago early on this season, and is tied with Wood for the team lead in wins (5). The righty has made one start against the Brewers this season, and pitched seven innings of three-hit ball – a performance he will look to replicate in Saturday’s contest.
Peralta has also faced the Cubs once this season, turning in a quality start of seven innings of three-run baseball. In the month of May, he’s allowed just six runs in 32 innings of work – good for a 1.69 ERA. His earned run average at home (2.27) is also noticeably better than his mark on the road, which will be something to keep in mind at Miller Park.
Game Three: 3:10 p.m. CT first pitch – 6/1, TV: WGN – Radio: WGN 720 AM
Chicago ace Jeff Samardzija (1-4, 1.68 ERA) will look to pick up his second straight win after defeating the Giants last week, and he will be opposed by a familiar foe in the form of Milwaukee right-hander Kyle Lohse (6-1, 2.92 ERA).
In his career, Samardzija has faced Milwaukee extensively, as both a starter and as a reliever. In 21 games – seven of which were starts – the right-hander is 2-5 with a 3.58 earned run average. He’s notched 56 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings against the Brewers, with a 1.227 WHIP.
Lohse, who is off to a quietly hot start for Ron Roenicke‘s club, has started 21 games against the Cubs in his big league career. At age 35, he continues to try and solve the North Siders, against whom he is 6-6 with a 5.08 ERA. In one start this season, Lohse tossed seven innings of three-run ball against Chicago.