CUBS (55-48) AT BREWERS (55-50)
7:10 p.m. ET; FSWI, ABC7, MLB.TV
Chicago Cubs (+1.5) left-hander Jon Lester returns to the rotation as the team looks to even its series against the host Milwaukee Brewers (-1.5) on Saturday night.
Lester (9-6) was scratched from Wednesday’s scheduled start in San Francisco due to a fever.
He has allowed four or more runs in six of his last 12 starts as his ERA has climbed from 1.16 to 3.87. In his last start, July 19 against the San Diego Padres (-1.5), Lester gave up four runs on 12 hits over six innings.
Lester is 5-3 with a 2.35 ERA in nine career starts against the Brewers.
Milwaukee rallied past its National League Central rival 3-2 on Friday night to pull within one game of the Cubs, who fell out of first place. Right-hander Chase Anderson (5-2, 3.90) will try to help the Brewers pull even.
Anderson hasn’t lost since June 21 against Cincinnati, allowing two or fewer runs in his past six starts, though the Brewers have turned only two of those into wins. Last time out, Anderson gave up two runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings versus the Reds.
“Overall I felt like my pace was good, my velocity was good, and I was locating for the most part,” Anderson told reporters.
He’s 5-4 with a 2.73 ERA in 12 games, 11 of them starts, against the Cubs.
Ben Gamel‘s two-out eighth-inning single scored two runs and lifted the Brewers to victory on Friday night as the teams began a stretch in which they’ll play six of nine games against each other.
“If you are in it and there’s proximity, then every series you play is going to be big,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell told MLB.com. “It’s a fun series. It’s not going to decide anything. There’s a long way to go. … It’s a team ahead of you in your division. That’s all you’ve got to say.”
The Brewers’ win was tempered by the injury to starter Gio Gonzalez, who was making his second start since a stint on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation. Gonzalez left with shoulder tightness in the seventh inning on Friday. Counsell said Gonzalez is day-to-day.
Before the bullpen failed to hold a lead against Milwaukee, the Cubs moved to bolster their relief corps Friday, acquiring left-hander Derek Holland and cash from the San Francisco Giants (+1.5) in exchange for cash considerations.
The 32-year-old Holland (2-4, 5.90) was designated for assignment by the Giants on Sunday.
The Cubs also recalled outfielder Ian Happ from Triple-A Iowa, and he went 0-for-3 in his return.
“Just to be back with the guys and feeling that energy and where they’re at right now — where we’re at — it’s a good spot,” Happ told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We control our own destiny, and I’m excited to be part of it.”
More help could be on the way as Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said veteran infielder Ben Zobrist, who has been on the restricted list since May 8 for personal reasons, will soon start a minor league assignment with an eye toward rejoining the team.
“We’re thrilled by the news, happy for him, happy for us,” Epstein told reporters. “We understand there are still a lot of steps that must happen. We think there’s a chance he’ll come back and help our depth.”
–Field Level Media