With the Milwaukee Brewers’ pitching staff hindered by injuries of late, Eric Lauer likely needs to continue the best early-season run of his career.
The left-hander will look for a third consecutive winning start when he faces the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night. The visiting Brewers are riding a three-game win streak as a team, too.
Lauer (5-1, 2.31 ERA), who broke into the majors with the San Diego Padres in 2018 and won seven games while posting a 3.19 ERA in 24 games, 20 starts, last season for Milwaukee, has been one of the club’s most pleasant surprises thus year. Only twice in eight starts has he yielded more than two earned runs.
Though Lauer wasn’t totally sharp while giving up two runs, four hits and a season-high four walks in five innings on Thursday, it was enough to help the visiting Brewers to a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Everything has just been so much more consistent. So much more over the plate,” Lauer told MLB Network. “Things are happening better. Things are just more controllable — and I think that’s been a big key for me this year.”
With rotation mates Freddy Peralta (lat strain) and Brandon Woodruff (ankle) both out, Lauer will need to remain sharp for the Brewers, who opened the current four-game set by sweeping a doubleheader on Monday to improve to 6-3 on an 11-game trip.
In two starts against the Cubs while pitching for the Padres in 2018 and ’19, Lauer went 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA. However, in two starts vs. Chicago with the Brewers over the past two seasons, he went 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA. For his career, he is 1-1 with a 4.98 ERA in five games (four starts) vs. the Cubs.
Lauer yielded a homer to Yan Gomes, four hits and struck out a 11 with a walk in seven innings of a 9-1 home rout of Chicago on April 30.
Willson Contreras is 2-for-5 against Lauer, and he homered for Chicago on Monday during a 3-1 loss in Game 2. That setback was the Cubs’ third straight and fifth in six games. He is batting .316 in six games vs. Milwaukee this season.
The Cubs, a dismal 7-17 at home this season, will turn to Justin Steele (1-5, 5.40 ERA), who looks to bounce back after he was roughed up for a career-high seven runs and seven hits in just two innings on Thursday in a 20-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. In three starts prior to that outing, the left-hander yielded a total of four runs, three earned, and just seven hits while striking out 22 in 15 innings.
“Sometimes you just have to tip your cap, go back to the drawing board and figure out how to get better from (a rough) outing,” Steele said, according to the Cubs’ official website.
“I’ve got to do a better job of figuring out how to stop the bleeding or doing something different to change up (the) pace.”
Steele is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts against the Brewers this season, having thrown five shutout innings during a 9-0 home win over Milwaukee on April 9. For his career, he is 1-2 with a 3.26 ERA in six games (four starts) against the Brewers.
Brewers star Christian Yelich is 3-for-6 against Steele. However, Yelich is currently in a 5-for-35 (.143) slump over his past nine games.
Milwaukee teammate Tyrone Taylor homered in each game Monday and is batting .341 (15-for-44) with five of his six homers on the season and 15 RBIs in his past 12 games.
Meanwhile, Cubs rookie Christopher Morel has hit safely in 10 consecutive games after going 1-for-4 in each game on Monday.
–Field Level Media