Probable Pitchers

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Monday at 7:05 pm CT – Marco Estrada vs. Justin Germano

It took 16 starts, but Estrada finally earned his first win of the year on Tuesday against the Cubs. It was arguably his best outing of the season, as he tossed six shutout innings, surrendered two hits and struck out nine. Germano will face the Brewers for the second straight game. In his last start, he gave up seven runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings and took the loss. He’s done better at Wrigley, posting a 3.18 ERA in four games.

Tuesday at 7:05 pm CT – Yovani Gallardo vs. Travis Wood

Gallardo threw seven innings for the fifth straight game on Wednesday, when he allowed just two solo home runs against the Cubs. The 26-year-old righty is 5-0 with a 2.02 ERA since Zack Greinke was traded at the end of July. Wood lost to the Brewers in his last start, but drew praise from Ryan Braun, who said the lefty threw a cutter “that’s tough to differentiate.” Braun did hit an RBI double and home run off Wood, so he figured him out.

Wednesday at 7:05 pm CT – Mike Fiers vs. Jeff Samardzija

Fiers 6 2/3 inning, three-run effort in Pittsburgh was a bounce-back after he allowed 12 runs over seven innings in his previous two starts. He also logged his first Major League hit, a bunt single that snapped an 0-for-22. Samardzija looks to extend his string of deep outings after going seven more innings in three of his last four outings. In his last start against Colorado, Samardzija burned through 60 pitches in three innings but made it through seven.

Thursday at 1:20 pm CT – Shaun Marcum vs. Brooks Raley

Marcum looked sharp in his return from a two-month stint on the disabled list before coming unraveled after an error in the fifth inning at Pittsburgh. The Brewers would like to trade him before Aug. 31 if they can. This will be Raley’s fifth big league start, and the Cubs are going to monitor his innings. Don’t expect him to go more than five. In his last start, he gave up two runs on five hits against the Rockies. He has a 4.09 ERA in two home games.

Our Take

I know you’re probably still cleaning up from your “Chris Volstad Won a Game” parties from last night, so I’ll be brief.

Prior to yesterday’s game, Jedi and I were talking about what the rest of the season might look like. With another month and some change, we tried to gauge where this Cubs season might land on the spectrum between Awful and Historically Awful. We never did land on a final number–we were stopped short by the fact that they’d only won 5 (now 6) games all month. It was no surprise they had been bad, but all the losses start to bleed together after a while, and it was a jolt to look back at the schedule and be reminded of just how bad they’ve been.

Now, will the end of Volstad’s winless streak propell them to greater things for the rest of the year? Not likely. But the Brewers are a beatable team. And after this series, we still have 3 more games against Colorado and 6 more against Houston to look forward to–that should be at least 6 more wins right there. Anything we can do against Pittsburgh (7 games), Cincinnati (3), St. Louis (3), Washington (3), Arizona (3), and San Francisco (3) is gravy.

Basically at this point I’m rooting for whatever it takes to keep St. Louis out of the postseason–if that means laying down for the Pirates and the Reds, so be it. The rest of the season is about small victories, but if we can help keep the Cardinals out of the playoffs, that would be huge.

Series Prediction: A 2-2 split is an improvement, albeit an unfulfilling one.

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