The Brewers have recovered slightly from their rough start, winning three out of four from the Atlanta Braves in order to bring their record to 3-4. Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs, the Brewers main rival, come to Miller Park sporting a 3-3 record.
Which is about where most folks expected the Cubbies to be. The young nucleus has some talent and first-year manager Mike Quade did lead the team to a strong finish last season after replacing Lou Pinella. So it figures that the Cubs would be a .500 team.
Not so with the Brewers, who are expected to contend for the 2011 NL Central crown. Those expectations are still there, despite the slow start.
The Cubs have already lost two starting pitchers to the disabled list, so that should bode well for a Brewers’ offense that is still trying to wake up. Well, it would, if the Brewers weren’t facing Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza during the first two games.
There is good news, though. Zambrano can be untouchable at times, but he is subject to meltdowns from time to time, as well. Garza struck out 12 in his last start, but he also gave up 12 singles and lost. On top of that, the Cubs haven’t yet announced a starter for Sunday, and whoever does get tabbed will face Yovani Gallardo, who has been very good so far in 2011. Chris Narveson, who pitches Saturday, was strong in his last start, and Randy Wolf, who has struggled thus far and pitches Friday, is a seasoned veteran.
So, if these games turn into pitching duels, the Brewers will be in a solid position. The offense might still struggle, but there will be opportunities for the bats to finally thaw.
Prediction: The Brewers take two of three, but drop the series opener. That will make the Brewers 5-5 after the series concludes Sunday.