Cubs-Brewers Preview: April 23-25

Alex KanteckiContributor IApril 23, 2010

CHICAGO - MAY 29:  Ted Lilly #30 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the game on May 29, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Don’t expect the Cubs (6-10) to have an easy go of it facing the Milwaukee Brewers (8-7) this time around.

The Cubs opened up their home schedule by taking two of three from the Brewers back on April 12-15—their lone series win to date—but Milwaukee and Chicago are two teams heading in opposite directions.

The Brewers piled on 20 runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday and outscored the Buccos 36-1 in a three-game sweep.

The Cubs, meanwhile, haven’t scored 36 runs in their past eight games combined.

Cubs’ starting pitching has shined the past eight times out, compiling a 2.33 ERA and striking out 45 hitters in 46.1 innings, but they should be prepared to face their toughest test of the year against Milwaukee.

In 2009, the Cubs went 5-4 at Miller Park and 10-7 overall against the Brewers. But so far in 2010, the Cubs have stumbled out to a 3-7 road mark.

There’s no indication that the Cubs are going to snap out of their hitting funk anytime soon, but maybe a heated rivalry with the Brewers at “Wrigley Field North” will spark some offense.

The Cubs' starting pitching has been stellar so far, but expecting the starters to be the “stopper” every time out is asking too much.

Let’s help ‘em out with the bats, boys.


Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers

Pitching matchups are subject to change.

Friday, April 23: Dempster, Ryan (1-0, 3.15) vs. Suppan, Jeff (0-0, 7.20)
Saturday, April 24: Lilly, Ted (0-0, -.--) vs. Davis, Doug (0-1, 11.25)
Sunday, April 25: Wells, Randy (1-0, 2.45) vs. Bush, Dave (1-0, 2.45)


On the Mound

Welcome back, Ted Lilly. The southpaw, who has been rehabbing from shoulder surgery since November 2009, gets his first start of the year on Saturday.

Lilly has been one of the most dependable starters since joining the Cubs in 2007. Last year was the first year he did not log 200 innings, but Lilly still posted a respectable 12-9 record with a 3.10 ERA in 177 innings.

At Miller Park, Lilly has gone 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four starts.


Big Z Watch

Carlos Zambrano will most likely get his first work from the bullpen this weekend. It was just two years ago when Zambrano threw his first career no-hitter against the Houston Astros in a relocated game at Miller Park.

Oh, how the times have changed.

Zambrano’s first inning has been his shakiest by far, as Big Z’s compiled a 15.75 ERA and opposing batters are hitting a cool .476.

I wonder if Big Z’s promise of a calmer pitcher applies to the bullpen as well.


At the Plate

I keep saying that Aramis Ramirez is the key to turning around the Cubs’ woeful offense, and I think I’ve found the perfect time for A-Ram to get off the schneid.

Ramirez has hit .281 with 14 home runs and 55 RBI in 66 career games at Miller Park. A couple of opposite-field dingers wouldn’t hurt this weekend.


Heating Up

Alfonso Soriano is starting to swing the bat with some purpose, but he isn’t scorching yet.

Soriano has boosted his average in the last 10 games from .200 to .308.

Included in the stretch are five multi-hit games, five doubles, a home run, five RBI, and, most importantly, only five strikeouts.

Now would be the perfect time for a patented Soriano hot streak.


Series Prediction

Cubs, 2-1

Call me crazy, but I think the Brewers bring out the best of the Cubs. With all those Cubs fans packing Miller Park, this team should feel right at home. That being said, if the Cubs come out flat on offense in the first game this could easily turn into a sweep for the Brewers.


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