The Chicago Cubs take on the Milwaukee Brewers in game one of their three-game series on Monday night from American Family Field in Milwaukee. The Cubs won the opening series of the season against the Pirates but lost last week’s midweek against the Brewers two games to one, losing the finale in extra innings. Both teams are hovering around .500 but have aspirations of making the playoffs in the seemingly wide-open National League Central, but need to start to get series wins as opposed to just one-off wins to make a push at the top of the standings in the early going. Which team will start off another crucial mid-week series with a win?
Cubs Worried About OffenseThe Cubs have one of the worst offenses in the league in the early going of the season and after two weeks, fans are worried that it might be the standard to expect for the season. Going into Sunday’s series finale with the Pirates, the Cubs have failed to score more than five runs across every game on the season so far. Kris Bryant and Javier Baez have been really the only two Chicago hitters that have found a way to produce so far. Baez has two home runs with five RBIs and is hitting .241, while Bryant is hitting .259 with two home runs and four RBIs himself. Besides those two all the other regulars are hitting below .200 and this only adds to the off-the-field concerns as the dealings surrounding Anthony Rizzo’s extension heats up.
According to MLB.com, Adbert Alzolay is expected to make his second start of the season on Monday night against the Brewers after losing in his first start against them last week. In his opener, he took the loss after allowing four runs, four hits, and two walks. He did strike out four and really calmed down after allowing three runs in the first inning alone. After adding a few pitches to his arsenal in the off-season, hopes are high for him to take a step up in the rotation. In 2020, Alzolay’s second year in the league, he had 21.1 innings of work across six games with an exceptional ERA of just 2.95, with limited sample size. His WHIP was still 1.172 but his 12.2 K/9 ratio impressed and could be a sign of things to come.
Alzolay has only appeared in 11 games over his young career, throwing 33.2 total innings coming into the year, and has one other appearance against the Brewers besides last week’s start. In 2019 he came in for an inning of relief in the Cubs 7-1 loss to the Brewers, giving up one hit, one run, and walking two. According to Baseball Savant, the Milwaukee lineup has 16 at-bats and 19 total plate appearances against Alzolay. He’s given up four hits, three walks, and struck out four, for a batting average against of .250. For as bad as the offense has been, the rotation and bullpen have been top-notch. Craig Kimbrel and Andrew Chafin both have appeared in four games each and are yet to give up a run on the back end of games.
Brewers Looking To Continue Success Against CubsThe Brewers lineup hasn’t exactly been lighting up either but won two of three games against the Cubs during last week’s mid-week series. Lorenzo Cain hit two home runs in the first few weeks but is only hitting .188. Travis Shaw leads the team with seven RBIs and a homer himself and is hitting .292. The team leader in average at .455 is Omar Narvaez and Christian Yelich has found his groove lately, getting his average up to 3.10. The Brewers have a lineup capable of making noise nightly, but they have struggled to find consistency and can use Monday’s game against the inexperienced Alzolay to jump-start the offense moving forward.
Freddy Peralta will be making his second start in six days and third appearance overall when he takes the mound on Monday, according to MLB.com. He’s started the season quickly, and now that he’s in the starting rotation, he’ll have the ability to show his experience and his strikeout ability. Over the last four years of all the pitchers who have thrown the same number of innings as Peralta, only perennial Cy Young contenders Chris Sale, Gerrit Cole, and Max Scherzer have a higher K/9 ratio. Peralta had a great spring training, striking out 23 batters across 13.2 innings and walking only three. Now in his fourth Major League season, he’s impressively finished over .500 every year, including going 3-1 with a 3.99 ERA across 15 games in the timeframe. 2020 saw him mainly come out of the bullpen after opening his career as a starter with eight games taking the ball in 2019 and 14 games in 2018.
In 2020, Peralta pitched in three games against the Cubs, throwing seven total innings, all in relief. Against the Cubs lineup last year he gave up four runs and struck out nine. In 2019, he had another three games against the Cubs, totaling 4.2 innings, giving up three runs. According to Baseball Savant, Chicago batters have 53 at-bats against Peralta all-time and 62 total plate appearances. Peralta’s given up only eight hits but nine walks and has struck out 21 Cubs in the process. The Cubs only have a batting average against of .151 and Peralta will enter this game full of experience, especially after tossing five innings of one-hit ball, allowing no runs, and striking out eight against the Cubs last week.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
In a matter of only a few weeks, Peralta has very quickly looked like he has the ability to be one of the best pitchers in the National League Central. He was dominant against the Cubs last week, allowing only a hit across five innings, and his ability to strike out his opponents and keep them off-balance has been unmatched this year. The Chicago offense has only hit .168 this year, with only 25 runs and 40 hits. The Brewers’ offense hasn’t fared much better but has caught fire a little of late, especially with an outburst in Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. For as good as the Cubs’ bullpen has been, the Brewers have found their own success with their relief setup and should have no problem keeping the Chicago offense at bay.
Full-Game Total Pick
When these two pitchers faced off against each other last week only four runs were scored. The Cubs offense hasn’t shown anything to make people think that they’ll suddenly become massive run producers and while the Brewers had a great showing on Sunday, it’s unsure how often fans can expect to see that from them. Additionally, according to covers.com, for Chicago, the under is 6-0 in their last six games vs. a team with a winning % below .400, is 6-0 in their last six vs. a team with a losing record, and is 4-0 in their last four road games vs. a team with a losing record. In games between the two teams, the under is 45-16-1 in the last 62 meetings and is 33-16-2 in the last 51 meetings in Milwaukee.