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May 3, 2024 1:08 am

Cubs’ Craig Counsell set to face former club, Brewers

craig counsell

An already tense rivalry will have some fuel added to the fire on Friday when the host Chicago Cubs open a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Chicago manager Craig Counsell is set to face Milwaukee for the first time since a five-year, reported $40 million deal lured him away from the Brewers in the offseason. Counsell was with Milwaukee from 2015 to 2023, leading the Brewers to five playoff appearances.

Brewers fans have had no problem adding Counsell’s departure to the long list of reasons to hate the Cubs, but the players haven’t shared the same sentiment.

“Look, I understand where the fans are coming from,” Milwaukee left fielder Christian Yelich said. “I get it with the rivalry and all that. I mean, (Cubs fans) hate me. So, like, I get it. It’s totally fine.

“I understand sports fans are passionate on both sides and across all sports. It’s just how it is. (Counsell) understands that.”

Early success has likely made the transition a bit easier for the Brewers, who have won 19 of their first 30 games following a 7-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.

Joe Ross (1-3, 5.40 ERA) will attempt to extend Milwaukee’s hot start when he makes his sixth start of the season on Friday.

In his most recent outing, Ross was tagged for seven runs (six earned) on eight hits across five innings to take a loss against the New York Yankees on Saturday.

Ross is 0-4 with a 4.25 ERA in eight career appearances (seven starts) vs. Chicago.

The Cubs will counter with fellow right-hander Hayden Wesneski (2-0, 0.87 ERA).

Wesneski came up from Triple-A Iowa in mid-April, and he has been reliable during his time with Chicago. He most recently had a four-inning start against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, yielding two runs (one earned) and five hits to come away with a no-decision.

Those were the only runs Wesneski has surrendered in 10 1/3 major league innings this year over two relief appearances and the lone start.

“Confidence comes and goes — it’s really easy to lose it, it’s really hard to get it,” Wesneski said. “For me, the way I gain confidence is through work. If I work hard and I feel like I checked the boxes off … there’s no reason I shouldn’t be confident.”

Wesneski has faced the Brewers just once, logging 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief against them on Sept. 30, 2023.

Like Milwaukee, the Cubs started impressive, going 17-9 through April 26. But they have since dropped four of the past six games, a rut that includes a 7-6, 11-inning loss to the host New York Mets on Thursday.

Chicago carried a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth but it was unable to hold on. The Cubs also squandered a 6-5 edge in the 11th inning, losing when Daniel Palencia served up a two-run, walk-off double to Francisco Lindor.

“There’s some opportunities we left out there and there’s some runs we couldn’t keep off the board and there’s some things we did well,” Counsell said. “There was a lot that happened in the game, and we just ended up coming up short.”

Prior to Thursday, the Cubs had scored no more than four runs in each of their previous five games.

–Field Level Media

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