Milwaukee Brewers: How important is the upcoming series with the Cubs?

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 06: Manager Craig Counsell
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 06: Manager Craig Counsell /

The Milwaukee Brewers head to Chicago on Friday for a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are five games up on the Brewers in the NL Central race. How big is this series, and what happens if the Brewers lose?

A series loss or Cubs sweep would put the Milwaukee Brewers out of the division title race. They would still have a shot at the Wild Card, but there won’t have a shot at raising a NL Central title banner. A series win or sweep keeps the Brewers in the mix for the division title.

How does the pitching shape up?

The pitching match ups are about as favorable as it gets for the Milwaukee Brewers. Jimmy Nelson squares off against John Lackey on Friday night. Chase Anderson draws Mike Montgomery on Saturday afternoon. The series wraps up with Zach Davies matched against Kyle Hendricks. They avoid Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta is banged up. Matt Garza and Brent Suter aren’t starting for the Brewers. If only the Cubs were still relying on Eddie Butler every fifth day.

What about the Cubs offense?

Addison Russell and Willson Contreras are still on the shelf. Other than that, the Cubs offense is healthy and clicking on all cylinders. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have carried the Cubs back into the driver’s seat for the division. They’ve combined for 10 homers and 42 RBIs in the last 30 days.

And the Brewers offense?

That’s the big question mark. The Milwaukee Brewers offense has been rough over the last month. Jonathan Villar, Jesus Aguilar, and Neil Walker are the only players with an OPS over .900 in the last 30 days. Orlando Arcia, Ryan Braun, Eric Thames, and Travis Shaw have been ice cold. The Brewers need to find the right lineup, scratch across a few runs, and beat the Cubs on the mound and in the field to really have a chance at taking this series.

Do the Brewers really have a shot at winning the series?

Yes. The pitching match ups really favor Milwaukee. Nelson and Anderson have been as good as any one-two punch in the league. Zach Davies on the road is one of the most favorable situations for the Brewers this year. If they can keep the Cubs offense at bay, they have a real chance to take the series.

Next: What's going on with the Brewers offense in the 2nd half?

The series between the Cubs and Brewers starts on Friday night. The Brewers have a real chance to get back into the division race with a few wins. However, the Cubs could also put the Brewers away with a sweep or series victory. Either way, this series has real consequences for both teams as the season winds down.