The Milwaukee Brewers are entering a key early season series against the division rival Chicago Cubs.
To preview this upcoming series, we talked to our
, fellow Fansiders over at Cubbies Crib about their team and their thoughts ahead of the Cubs matchup with the Milwaukee Brewers.
This is what they had to say.
After a relatively uneventful offseason for you, how have the Cubs improved from last year?
They haven’t. The front office made it perfectly clear – any improvement will come from within. That means a healthy Kris Bryant in the middle of the order, Willson Contreras getting back to what made him an All-Star back in 2017 and better situational hitting. Chicago did nothing but bargain shop this offseason after they exercised Cole Hamels‘ $20 million option and brought in Daniel Descalso to replace Tommy LaStella.
The Cubs starting rotation is full of big names, but some of those pitchers are past their prime, what’s the outlook for that group?
On paper, at least, the rotation is one of the team’s biggest strengths. Despite declining peripherals, Jon Lester keeps doing his thing. Kyle Hendricks earned himself a four-year extension last month and will anchor the staff for the foreseeable future. Cole Hamels arguably saved the Cubs’ season last year – but I don’t expect him to be quite that level of dominant this season.
The big question marks, in my mind, are Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana. The former’s story is familiar to most baseball fans – he made just eight starts last year and didn’t even last into the third in his first start of 2019, walking seven batters – a career-high.
Do you really think Kyle Schwarber can win MVP?
This year? Probably not. But would it surprise me at all if he went off and got some votes? Not at all. This guy is capable of being one of the best all-around hitters in the game. The bigger question, perhaps, is whether or not Joe Maddon will ever give him the chance to become an everyday player. He’s been held out of the lineup against lefties more often than not – something that, in my mind, is only hampering Schwarber’s long-term development.
Do you have to throw Jose Quintana against us every single time?
Yes. A million times, yes. His starts against the Brewers have easily been the high points of his Cubs career so far. Fans are pretty unable or unwilling to evaluate Quintana objectively (having to see Jimenez on the South Side really puts a bad taste in a lot of folks’ mouths) – but his outings against Milwaukee have been enough to make us forget that – at least from time to time.
What’s your prediction for the NL Central race?
Coming off a six-error game where the Cubs looked like they’d rather be doing anything in the world other than playing baseball, this isn’t the best time for me to answer this.
But I’ll say this. If Chicago doesn’t get those internal improvements they’re betting 2019 on (and make no mistake, they are betting their season on said improvements) the Cubs will not win the division. Milwaukee got better, St. Louis got better. For the Cubs it’ll come down to the offense (which has looked good overall so far) and a bullpen that’s enough to make me drink on a nightly basis coming through over the course of 162 games.
Even the Cubs experts are concerned about Chicago’s team this year and their performance is clearly warranting that concern. This is another excellent chance for the Milwaukee Brewers to prove their superiority.