Preview: Brewers at Cubs
Going 0-for-4 on Sunday doesn’t mean Kris Bryant is about to slip back into the slump he was in earlier this month.
After opening the season with three games in which he couldn’t hit a thing, Bryant has steadily boosted his numbers. He and the Cubs open a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday at Wrigley Field.
The Chicago third baseman went 0-for-13 in the season-opening series at St. Louis, but the reigning National League MVP has since hit .314 (11-for-35) with four doubles, two homers, seven RBI and seven walks.
“Start out slow in the regular season and adjust,” Bryant said recently. “It’s a game of adjustments.”
Sunday was rough for Bryant, who hit into a double play in the first inning and popped to short center, flied out and hit into a forceout as the Cubs lost 6-1 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
However, he put up big numbers the day before with the wind blowing out, collecting his first two homers of the season — including a first-inning shot that hit the left field video board — plus three RBI.
“I bet he would tell you that he didn’t land on that ball as well as he can, which is even more impressive to see the ball off the scoreboard on a 75 percent swing,” Cubs starter Jake Arrieta said.
On Monday, Bryant and the Cubs face Brewers right-hander Chase Anderson (1-0, 0.69 ERA), a pitcher they have little history against. Bryant is batting .200 (1-for-5) against Anderson, while current Cubs players have a collective .130 average (6-for-46) against him.
Anderson likely wouldn’t even be in the rotation if not for Matt Garza’s right groin strain. Garza is on the 10-day disabled list.
“I’m just trying to take advantage of opportunities because you don’t get too many of them in this game,” Anderson he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week. “I guess I would have been the long guy in the bullpen, which would have been fine, too. I was going to accept any role they gave me.”
Anderson has made only two career starts at Wrigley Field, producing a 0-0 record and 2.70 ERA.
The Cubs will send right-hander John Lackey (1-1, 3.00 ERA) out for his third start of the season against a Brewers team he has historically had success against.
Lackey is 5-2 all-time with a 3.28 ERA in 11 games started against the Brewers. The last time he faced Milwaukee, he went seven innings in a no-decision during a 5-4 Cubs victory at Wrigley Field on Sept. 16, 2016.
In his most recent outing this season, Lackey went six innings and allowed just one earned run while striking out 10 in the Cubs’ 2-0 loss to the Dodgers.
Chicago will meet a Brewers team that is 5-1 so far on the road and with a hitter — Ryan Braun — who is first among all active players with a .342 average at Wrigley Field.
Braun is also climbing the ranks of Brewers batters and stands as their all-time leader in home runs (289) and is third in runs, RBI, total bases, triples, extra base hits and stolen bases.
Chicago and Milwaukee meet for the second time this month. The Cubs took two of three between April 7-9. Following this week’s series, the team will face off again from May 19-21.