BREWERS (57-55) AT CUBS (59-51)
2:20 p.m. ET; WGN, TBS, FSWI, MLB.TV
The Chicago Cubs (-1.5) have been bad on the road, but they’re making up for it and staying alive in their postseason pursuits by playing well in their legendary friendly confines at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs returned home from losing two of three to the Cardinals in St. Louis earlier in the week, and the results this weekend are what could win the National League Central or earn the North Side club a wild-card berth.
The Cubs’ home and road splits couldn’t be any further apart.
The team’s 38-18 mark inside the ivy-coated outfield walls ranks second best in the NL, trailing only the Los Angeles Dodgers (-1.5), who have stormed through the senior circuit and authored the league’s top home record at Dodger Stadium.
However, the Cubs’ exploits on the road aren’t the kind of numbers expected of a team trying to duplicate its 2016 World Series season.
Manager Joe Maddon‘s team sports just 21 wins in 54 road games — a performance that has left them battling with the Cardinals for the division’s top spot and having to stave off the Milwaukee Brewers (+1.5)’ offensive assault.
Chicago will look to sweep the Brewers in Sunday’s home finale.
Sunday’s search for a sweep won’t be played with All-Star catcher Willson Contreras behind the plate.
In the at-bat before Albert Almora Jr.’s tiebreaking home run in Saturday’s 4-1 win, Contreras, who has 19 homers, pulled up, clutched his right leg at the hamstring and limped to first base.
Victor Caratini replaced Contreras, who will have an MRI on Monday, and the team is expected to add a catcher on Sunday.
Maddon has liked the play of newcomer Nicholas Castellanos (2-for-4 on Saturday), saying, “It’s reminding us what hunger looks like.”
Yu Darvish (3-5, 4.46 ERA) will make his first start this season against the Brewers, who have lost three straight.
Despite being 0-1 in three career starts against Milwaukee, he has allowed just 11 hits in 17 innings while striking out 24, and his ERA is 2.12.
Milwaukee will counter with Adrian Houser (4-4, 3.99), who rejoined the Brewers’ rotation in Oakland and made a five-inning start on 69 pitches on Tuesday.
The right-hander is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three relief appearances against the Cubs this season and 0-1 with a 2.35 ERA in five career outings, all out of the bullpen.
Manager Craig Counsell‘s team has slipped to three games behind the Cubs at the top of the standings.
Counsell made no excuses following Milwaukee’s second consecutive loss to its rivals.
“Look, it’s a really important part of the rest of the season for us — to put runs on the board. We’re very capable of it. I think we have the names in the lineup we want, the health. It’s all there,” he said.
“The big hits just haven’t been there.”
–Field Level Media