After splitting the first two games of this crucial three-game set atop the NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers (74-58) and Chicago Cubs (70-62) square off one more time in the rubber match at Wrigley Field on Wednesday afternoon. First pitch is set for 2:20 p.m. ET. Milwaukee will send ace Brandon Woodruff (3-1, 2.65 ERA) to the mound, while Chicago counters with veteran righty Kyle Hendricks (5-7, 3.80).
The Brewers enter as narrow -120 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Cubs at +100. The run total is set at 7.
Brewers-Cubs picks: Wednesday, August 30
Day-to-day: 1B Carlos Santana (ankle)
Out: SP Adrian Houser (elbow), OF Blake Perkins (oblique), DH Jesse Winker (back)
Out: SP Marcus Stroman (rib), RP Michael Fulmer (forearm)
Brandon Woodruff vs. Kyle Hendricks
After missing most of the first four months of the 2023 season with a shoulder injury, Woodruff has looked just about like his old self since returning to the Brewers rotation earlier this month. The righty has pitched to a 3.57 ERA and 0.88 WHIP with a healthy 29 Ks in just 22.2 innings — including 11 punchouts over six innings of one-run ball in a win over the Padres last week. His fastball/changeup combination is looking more and more hellacious, with both pitches carrying batting averages under .200 and whiff rates over 30%. Woodruff faced the Cubs way back in the opening series of the season, striking out eight over six innings while giving up just one run on three hits.
With Marcus Stroman’s injury and Drew Smyly’s implosion, it’s hard to imagine where Chicago’s rotation might be without Hendricks, who’s done yeoman’s work since returning from a shoulder injury in late May. Aside from one understandable blowup against the Braves earlier this month, the righty has been extremely reliable, only allowing more than three earned runs in 15 of his 18 starts on the season. One of those came back in July in Milwaukee, when Hendricks gave up just two runs (one earned) on four hits over six innings.
We’ve seen totals of eight and one over the first two games of this series, and with Wednesday’s finale pitting two very solid starters against two lineups that rank in the bottom third of the league against right-handed pitching over the last two weeks, I’m backing the under again despite the minuscule total. Woodruff has been nails since coming off the IL, allowing one or two runs in three of four starts this month, and if Hendricks can hold up his end of the bargain, I think we’re in for another tight pitcher’s duel.
Pick: Under 7
In the end, I just have a little bit more faith in Woodruff than Hendricks not to blink first. Chicago has the more foreboding offense on paper, but they’ve disappeared far too frequently of late, and Woodruff is throwing the ball about as well as anyone in the game right now.
Pick: Brewers -120