The Milwaukee Brewers are closing in on the NL Central crown, and they'll hope to take one more step in the right direction this week when they head to Wrigley Field for a showdown with the Chicago Cubs.
Monday night's encounter starts at 8:05 (ET), with television coverage on FOX Sports Wisconsin and Comcast Sports.
Coming into play Sunday, the Brewers were holding a 6 ½-game lead in the NL Central, and their magic number to clinch the division just five. Milwaukee is also paying close attention to the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, as well. The Brewers held a two-game lead on the Diamondbacks for the second-best record in the NL amongst division leaders as of Sunday morning.
Assuming that both win their divisions, the team with the better record will face the NL Wild Card (likely the Atlanta Braves) with home-field advantage; the team with the lesser record has to start off the postseason on the road at the Philadelphia Phillies, who will likely become the first team to get to 100 wins at some point this week.
Meanwhile, the Cubs are just playing out the season, one which has been a certified disaster. The threat of losing 100 games is at least gone, but 90 losses is still a likelihood, something that isn't looked upon kindly in the Windy City.
This is an important start for Milwaukee's Chris Narveson. The lefty is still fighting for a spot in the starting rotation for the postseason. He has been in and out of the bullpen since the end of August, making two starts and two relief appearances.
For the year, the southpaw is 10-7 with a 4.40 ERA, numbers which are fairly mediocre. Batters are hitting a marginal .258 against him, but thanks to 57 walks, his WHIP is a suspect 1.37.
The good news for Narveson is that he has pitched well on the road of late. Milwaukee is 4-0 in his last four road starts, and Narveson is 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA.
Narveson has dominated the Cubs over his brief career, and he has gotten the job done both as a starter and a reliever. The lefty has made five starts and seven relief appearances against Chicago, and is 6-0 with a 3.41 ERA. Three of those six wins were here at the Friendly Confines.
The Cubs haven't won a game in which Casey Coleman made an appearance since May 19, a span of 10 straight outings. The righty has pitched as a starter in all but two of those games, and has had some awfully ugly results.
Coleman is 2-8 with a 7.06 ERA, and his splits are as bad as his record and ERA suggest. A WHIP of 1.87 is dreadful, and batters are knocking him around for a .317 batting average. Coleman also nearly has as many runs allowed (59) as strikeouts (60), something that normally keeps players in the minor leagues.
However, at just 24 years old, the Cubs think Coleman can work through his problems, and with the minor league season over with, manager Mike Quade wants to keep him in a regular rotation for the rest of the year.
Milwaukee has swept two straight series with the Cubs, winning six straight overall in this series. However, all of those games were played in Miller Park. The home team is 10-2 in the 12 clashes this year coming into this series.
The biggest factor in this one might be Mother Nature. During the day, winds are going to be blowing out at upwards of 20 mph, and the hope for these pitchers is that the wind calms down after nightfall.
The 'over' has gone 19-5-2 in the last 26 meetings of these two teams here at Wrigley Field.