Brewers looking to end Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana’s dominance
CHICAGO − Monday’s National League Central Division tiebreaker might not have been necessary had the Milwaukee Brewers found a way to beat Jose Quintana.
The Cubs’ left-hander has dominated Milwaukee this season, posting a 2.17 ERA in six starts while striking out 33 in 37 1 /3 innings of work, making for little surprise when Chicago manager Joe Maddon tapped him to start Game 163 Monday at Wrigley Field.
“I don’t have a great answer for you,” Counsell said. “He’s pitched well against us and he deserves a lot of credit for pitching well against us.”
Quintana’s numbers against Milwaukee go from impressive to confusing when compared with performance against the rest of the league. Taking the Brewers out of the equation, Quintana is just 9-10 with a 4.64 ERA.
So why have the Brewers been the exception?
“He’s been very good with his fastball against us,” Counsell said. “He’s located his fastball in different parts of the strike zone very effectively.
“The big thing that he’s done that I think is becoming a new pitching theme is up and in to the opposite-handed hitter. He’s very good at it, and when he executes that pitch its tough for hitters to hit it. In our games he’s done a good job of executing that pitch down and away and up and in with his fastball.
“That’s a lot for hitters to cover. We have to keep him on the plate and make good swing decisions.”
The Brewers’ struggles against Quintana stretch back to before he was traded across town from the White Sox last season. Including his time on the South Side, Quintana has a 1.60 ERA in 10 career starts against Milwaukee.
One writer in attendance suggested Monday could be a chance for the Brewers to flip the script against Quintana.
“That sounds like a great idea,” Counsell said. “I don’t know if that was in our scouting report today, but I’ll be a fan of the law of averages today. Regression to the mean. I’m good with that.
“Look, we’ve got to do a better job against him. I like our matchups. I like our lineup against him. He has largely won the matchups, though.”
Brewers turn to Chacin Counsell finally announced his own starter Monday morning, choosing to go with right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (15-8, 3.56) for the tiebreaker.
The move wasn’t all that much of a surprise; Chacin has performed well against the Cubs this season, going 2-2 with a 1.59 ERA in five starts, and has a 2.98 ERA in 11 career appearances against Chicago.
“He’s pitched well against this team,” Counsell said.
It also helps that Chacin is pitching on regular rest. Counsell was able to avoid using his high-leverage relievers -- Corey Knebel, Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress -- in Sunday’s 11-0 romp over the Tigers but with the possibility of playing an elimination game Tuesday, Counsell said managing his relievers would be a challenge.
“We’re going into this game today in a better place than we were yesterday,” Counsell said. “We had guys off-limits no matter what. Today we just have to be judicious with how we deploy these guys.”
The Wrigley Field flags were blowing from right field to left when Counsell popped out of the visitors’ dugout early Monday morning.
Game-time temperatures were expected to be around 70 degrees with cloudy skies and only a slight chance of precipitation expected.
Odds and ends
The Cubs won the right to host Monday’s game by winning the season series, 10-9. The Cubs won eight of the first nine meetings but the Brewers took seven of the last 10, including four of six in September. ... The Brewers are 169-180 all-time against the Cubs with an 81-92 mark at Wrigley Field. ... Home teams are 5-5 in the 10 previous one-game playoffs. ... A victory Monday would tie the franchise record for most in a season, set by the 2011 team that went 96-66. ... Former Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints coach Mike Ditka was scheduled to sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch.