The Chicago Cubs will look to build upon the best record in the major leagues when they take on the visiting Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night in the second installment of a four-game series.
Behind first-year manager David Ross, the Cubs have raced to a 13-3 start for the first time since 1907. They have won seven games in a row at home and outscored opponents 83-63 on the season.
For the team’s core group of players, which captured a World Series title in 2016, the success has felt rejuvenating.
“I’m not going to shy away from this — this could be our last year together,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “I think we all know that, especially with the state of the game and who knows what’s going to happen? This could be our last run with all our core guys. This could be my last year, who knows? So I’m enjoying every second of it.”
Chicago certainly enjoyed Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers, a 4-2 victory. Yu Darvish carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Milwaukee slugger Justin Smoak put his team on the board with a solo homer.
Quality pitching has been a theme all season for the Cubs, who have allowed two or fewer runs in half of their games.
Now, it will be up to right-hander Tyler Chatwood (2-1, 5.40 ERA) to try to continue the pitching staff’s excellence. Chatwood posted two quality starts to begin the season, but the Kansas City Royals hammered him his last time out for eight runs on 11 hits in 2 1/3 innings.
In his career, Chatwood has faced the Brewers on 13 occasions, including seven starts. He is 5-3 with a 2.75 ERA in those contests, walking 18 and striking out 60 in 52 1/3 innings.
Milwaukee will counter with ace right-hander Brandon Woodruff (1-1, 2.53 ERA), who will make his fifth start of the season and his second against the Cubs. Woodruff took the loss against Chicago in the season opener after allowing two runs on four hits in five innings.
In six games (four starts) against the Cubs in his career, Woodruff is 0-1 with a 5.95 ERA.
“Having some games come up here and just being on a good schedule and a good routine is super important, just get back into the swing of things,” Woodruff told reporters before his most recent outing. “It’s crazy — this will be my fourth start, and I feel like it’s kind of flown by already. You start getting in the routine and get going, and next thing you know, you look up and we’re close to being a good portion of the way through the season.”
The Brewers have lost 10 of 17 games, but no team other than the Cubs has a winning record in the National League Central. Milwaukee hopes to regroup as it eyes the possibility of a third straight appearance in the postseason.
“I think this is a huge road trip,” Woodruff said. “We’re going to have to come out and play some good baseball if we want to get through this and I guess make sitting in the (hotel) rooms a little bit easier. It’s going to be big.”
–Field Level Media