Dodgers Shift Focus to Cubs

javier-baez

Having won seven of their last eight games, the Dodgers have arrived in Chicago and are preparing to face the Cubs, who are sitting smack-dab in the middle of the NL Central division standings with a 10-10 record.

Last year against the Dodgers, the Cubs won the season series 4-3 and outscored the Dodgers 35-23 in those contests.

The Cubs are well-known for their sluggish starts in recent seasons; however, they always seem to find their way into the playoffs. Last season, after losing the 163rd division-deciding game to the Brewers, Chicago was bumped out of the postseason by the Rockies in a disappointing, 13-inning 2-1 defeat.

Nevertheless, after staggering to a 3-8 start this year, the Cubs have won seven of nine games since then to climb back to .500. Pitching has been key to Chicago’s recent success. The staff has allowed just two runs or fewer in five of their last six contests.

On the offensive side of things, two of the Chicago big guns—Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo—have yet to get their respective motors running. The pair has combined for just four home runs and 19 RBI through the first 20 games. Rizzo is hitting a paltry .197/.367/.465.

As usual, shortstop Javier Baez is among the team leaders in almost every offensive category. He’s hitting .302/.333/.756 and leads the club with 17 RBI. Baez is tied with catcher Wilson Contreras for the team lead in long balls with six.

“We’re going to play hard against every team, no matter who it is, no matter what place they’re at,” Baez told reporters on Monday. “When other teams come to Chicago, things change.”

Seemingly, if the Cubs want to compete with the Dodgers, they’ll definitely need to put forth their best efforts, as Baez suggests. While Los Angeles has indeed been streaky, they bring the best record (15-9) in the National League into the series opener on Tuesday.

Obviously, Cody Bellinger is leading the way for the Dodgers, hitting .424 with 11 home runs and 28 RBI over 23 games. Joc Pederson has provided the pop at the top of the order and finds himself tied for third in the National League with 11 homers.

“He’s just playing incredible baseball,” skipper Dave Roberts said of Bellinger recently. “All the way, across the board. He just impacts the game in so many ways when he’s out there.”

As far as overall pitching goes, the Dodgers and the Cubs are right in the middle of the NL pack. Los Angeles is sixth in the league with a 4.10 team ERA while the Cubs are in seventh with a 4.21 mark. The Chicago bullpen continues to struggle and is third-to-last in the league with a 5.08 ERA, trailing only the Mets and the Nationals.

The tentative starting pitching matchups are as follows:

Tuesday: Jose Quintana, LHP (2-1, 3.43 ERA, 1.429 WHIP, 3.16 FIP) vs. Kenta Maeda, RHP (3-1, 3.80 ERA, 1.268 WHIP, 4.87 FIP)

Wednesday: Cole Hamels, LHP (3-0, 2.77 ERA, 0.846 WHIP, 3.14 FIP) vs. Walker Buehler, RHP (2-0, 5.40 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 3.10 FIP)

Thursday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (1-3, 3.54 ERA, 1.672 WHIP, 3.95 FIP) vs. Ross Stripling, RHP (1-1, 3.07 ERA, 1.057 WHIP, 4.12 FIP)

Roberts may find himself deviating from his normal lineup for the first two contests, possibly structuring his batting order for better success against southpaws.

First pitch for Tuesday’s opener is set for 5:05 PM Los Angeles time.

 

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18 thoughts on “Dodgers Shift Focus to Cubs

  1. Looks like we might escape without any rainouts. I hope that turns out to be a good thing. If we could take 2 out of 3, it would be a pretty spectacular road trip (5-2). With both bullpens operating at less than peak efficiency, there could be a lot of late inning scoring in this series.

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  2. Cubs not as scary as they were. Pitching is a shambles right now. I hope the Dodgers get to face Yu Garbage. Great time for JT to bust out.

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  3. Well, that one got away.

    I don’t have MLB this year so all I had was the box. After 2 innings, 58 pitches, I was wondering if maybe Maeda was in trouble physically, like possibly arm trouble. I see he went 4, so, he must have checked out ok. He just stunk it up tonight. I guess this is what you get with this group. Brilliant for a few days then the ruby begonia. We also didn’t hit worth spit. Another failure vs LHP. Oh well. We’ve seen this before, we’ll see it again.

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    1. Scoop. The ump had a very narrow K zone for one thing. But Maeda was not attacking the zone either. He was doing that nibbling BS again, and paid for it. He hit 92 on the gun

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  4. Enough already! Chris Taylor is no longer a viable option to start for the Dodgers.Hes jgoing so bad it’s looking like Seattle got the better of that trade 2 years ago! There is no right handed option in left field in our system so I say give Verdugo the start against lefties.

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    1. I’m fine with that idea. Though it’s fair to point out he’s a very streaky hitter. Last year he OPS’d under .700 3 months, over .800 3 months, over 1.000 in Sept/October and under .600 in August. After an incredible ‘17 (faded to .616 in September/October) he was the model of inconsistency in ‘18. Since he’s been with us he’s never had a month as bad this – .504. It’s 63 plate appearances so it’s a relatively sizable sample size. He looks lost up there and he’s on pace to match his K rate of last year. I see no reason to continue with this. And for the record, Brad Miller is OPS’n .742 for Cleveland, with positive d and oWAR numbers so far.

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      1. I wouldn’t want to give up totally on Taylor, but I think some time back at OKC would definitely help him. With regard to Miller, Scoop, if I’m not mistaken they’ve already dfa’d him and released him and he’s now in the Yankee organization.
        Here’s a link to a terrific article on Verdugo. I say, “let him run free!”
        https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/la-sp-alex-verdugo-dodgers-rookie-personality-vicente-fernandez-volver-volver-20190422-story.html?utm

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      2. Brad Miller was released and has signed with the Yankees. Hanley was released also when Lindor was activated

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    1. He’s definitely filling some of the vacuum left by the Puig departure, but I have a feeling his personality is maturing to the point where his teammates enjoy him more than they enjoyed Puig.

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  5. I know the general consensus around here is “good riddance to Farhan” but I highly recommend this article on him. Really an interesting read. It’s a long one so make sure you have a few minutes to get into it.

    http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/26544614/how-farhan-zaidi-left-berkeley-became-baseball-pioneer?utm_source=listrak&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=a+profile+of+the+Dodgers%e2%80%99+former+GM&utm_campaign=scng-regional-dodgers&utm_content=manual

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    1. I read that article yesterday Jeff. Was going to suggest that all read it. Pretty interesting stuff. As for Taylor, not sure that the hitting coach at OKC would make all that much difference. Scott Coolbaugh is the Jefe down there. But something needs to be done. He is totally clueless at the plate. Castro is hitting .314 at OKC. The only infielder with decent stats. Rios is hitting .260.

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