With Opening Day just a week away, it’s time to start circling those series of interest early in the year that might not decide a team’s fate, but will still be a good measuring stick regardless. For the Chicago Cubs, that means matchups with several likely postseason-bound clubs – but for our purposes here, I’ve narrowed it down to just three.
Of course, there’s the old saying: “It’s only April”, until you remember how many recent seasons the Cubs have spent trying to contend for a wild card berth, leaving fans wishing they had done better earlier in the year. Ahead, we take a look at three key matchups for the Cubs as they open up the 2022 season at Wrigley Field on Thursday, April 7.
Cubs: 3 key early season matchups – #3: Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee enters the 2022 season as the most formidable squad in the NL Central. Poised to make a deep playoff run again this year, the Brewers will, right out of the gate, be a true test for David Ross and his new-look ballclub.
Backed by a killer rotation of Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta and reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee’s pitching staff from rotation to bullpen is one of the deeper bunches in all of baseball, period. Burnes finished the regular season with an incredible 2.43 ERA and 234 punchouts last season. As if that weren’t intimidating enough, his 1.63 FIP suggests he was actually the victim of some bad luck and that 2.43 mark is actually quite inflated.
Last season, Milwaukee finished the year 95-67. Knowing the challenge that Chicago faces right out of the gate, you have to hope to inflate the starters’ pitch counts early on and not let them settle in. Thankfully, at the very beginning of the year you may not see as long of starts from Brewers starters as they ramp up, but it’s still a tall task.
Devin Williams and Josh Hader are two of the best arms at the back of any bullpen and that group, as a whole, possesses a ton of different weapons. If Christian Yelich gets the back issues under control and returns to his former MVP form, watch out for the Brewers in 2022.