Series Preview: Dodgers Head to Chicago to Battle Cubs

The past two seasons, the Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs have traded NL championships. Starting Monday in Chicago, they will face off for the first time since the Dodgers clinched the 2017 NLCS in commanding fashion, led by three home runs from Enrique Hernandez.

Since then, two members of that championship team have left for supposedly greener walls in Chicago. The Dodgers will not face Yu Darvish, the losing pitcher of Game 7 in the World Series, for he is currently on the disabled list with inflammation of his right triceps. They will, however, presumably face Brandon Morrow at more than one point out of the bullpen. Morrow has appeared in 26 games for the Cubs, with 22.2 innings pitched, 25 strikeouts, 16 saves, a 1.59 ERA and 1.147 WHIP. He has only surrendered one homer and four runs total.

In Sunday night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs’ second baseman Javier Baez was hit on the elbow with a pitch. As of this writing, there will be an X-ray on the elbow and his status is unclear for the Dodgers series. So far this season, Baez is batting .255 with 14 homers.

The Dodgers are coming off their eighth-straight series win, taking two of three from the San Francisco Giants over the weekend. The Cubs also took two of three from the Cardinals during the weekend, but were held scoreless in Sunday night’s game. They have not scored in three of their last five games.

Offensively this season, the Cubs have been lead by Albert Amora Jr, currently batting .325 with 15 doubles. Baez leads the team in homers with 14, followed by Kyle Schwarber with 12, Anthony Rizzo with 11, and Kris Bryant with nine. They are 14-6 in their last 20 games, 40-28 overall and second in the NL Central, 0.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers.

Monday night’s game will see Kenta Maeda facing off against righty Tyler Chatwood. Madea is coming off a decent start against the Texas Rangers, his first in his return from the Dal with hip discomfort. Interestingly enough, none of the Cubs have ever faced him. Chatwood is 3-5 with a 4.12 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 13 games. He has only allowed three home runs all season, but he has walked 58.

Tuesday will be the return of Rich Hill from the disabled list, while the Cubs will send lefty Mike Montgomery to the mound. Hill has been on the DL since May 19, continuing to deal with his blister issues. He had a rehab start in Rancho Cucamonga last Thursday, where he struck out 10. Montgomery is 2-2 on the year, with a 3.31 ERA and four home runs allowed alongside 29 strikeouts. He had started the season in the pen, but has recently been charged with taking over for the injured Darvish, and has pitched very well in that time.

Wednesday the pitching matchup will be the aces facing off—Ross Stripling against southpaw Jon Lester. Stripling looks to stay on his All-Star Game worthy campaign, and currently sits at 6-1 with a 1.76 ERA. Lester, one of the two workhorses of the Cubs pitching staff, is 8-2 with a 2.28 ERA over 83.0 innings pitched. He has 69 strikeouts and has allowed 10 home runs.

After a weekend series in New York against the Mets, the Dodgers will finish up their season series with the Cubs next week back at Dodger Stadium.

 

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Dodgers Hope to Maintain Momentum Against Rival Giants

It’s unfair to compare teams from year to year, because, stating the obvious, they aren’t the same team. The 2018 Dodgers are not the 2017 Dodgers, even though most of the players are the same.

However, in the last few games, I have started to see that spark which earlier in the season I had said was lacking. That spirit that the games isn’t over even when the score says otherwise. That passion, fire and just plain having fun that they were lacking.

Of course, it’s easier to have fun when you’re winning. One could probably ask which came first, the winning or being loose. The Dodgers are definitely loose, and they are winning a lot more games than they were in April. I think a big part of the being loose is the lack of panic by anyone in management when things were not going the way they should have.

Matt Kemp brought some fire Wednesday night at the Ravine, running full steam through the Rangers’ catcher Robinson Chirinos. Kemp, who has been criticized for lack of hustle, and often injured, is giving everything for his team. Bringing the passion. Passion not brought on by angst about not winning, passion because he wants to give it all for the team. Kemp and Chirinos were both suspended for one game and fined for their little brawl after the hit at home. Kemp is appealing, Chirinos is not.

The Dodgers won that game in 11 innings on a a little bounce-back hit that the pitcher threw slightly errantly, allowing Kiké Hernandez to do a sweet avoidance move and touch the plate for the winning score. That is the kind of crazy, game-winning stuff that we saw last year. Who knew how it was going to happen, but you somehow knew it was going to break in the Dodgers’ favor.

They have another guy in Max Muncy who seemingly came out of nowhere to light the world on fire. I’ve seen tweets saying that Muncy should be Rookie of the Year, but Muncy is no rookie, having been in the bigs with the Oakland A’s before coming to LA. No, he’s just this year’s Chris Taylor, hitting bombs and playing wherever the Dodgers tell him to.

Things are continuing to look good for the Dodgers. Cody Bellinger seems to finally be turning things around. Joc Pederson has been red hot, slashing .409/.409/1.273 in his last seven games with five home runs, and is now second on the team to Kemp in batting average.

But the most important thing is that the starting pitchers are getting close to returning from the disabled list. Kenta Maeda came back Wednesday and had a solid outing. Rich Hill had a rehab start in Rancho Cucamonga, throwing 75 pitches, over 4-2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts. He allowed four hits, two to a fellow rehab player Austin Hedges, and two unearned runs. Hill talked after the game, saying he was happy with his spin rate. He is slated to be the starter on Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs.

Tonight the Dodgers open up a three game series against the rival San Francisco Giants, who are two games behind the second place Dodgers in the division. They are sending their best pitcher to the mound in Ross Stripling and will face Derek Holland, who is not having the best year. Saturday’s game will see Alex Wood and Madison Bumgarner, who will be making his second start since returning from the disabled list. He struggled facing the Miami Marlins, and was ejected as he left the mound after having words with home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak. Sunday the Giants will send righty Chris Stratton to the mound, and the Dodgers will start rookie Caleb Ferguson.

A notable loss in the lineup for the Giants is Evan Longoria, who fractured his fifth metacarpal, which, interestingly enough was the same injury Bumgarner has been on the DL with. The Dodgers could be without Kemp for one of the three games. With the Dodgers hot, and the Giants exhausted from extra innings and a long flight from Miami, it could be a very good weekend at The Ravine.

A Look at How the Dodgers Have Weathered the First-Half Injury Storm

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A few weeks ago, when the Dodgers looked like they were at rock bottom, I went through and looked at the upcoming schedule, and what the Dodgers would have to do to climb back to .500 and back to the top of the division. An off day today was a good time to take stock of what has transpired over the first two and a half months of the season.

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Dodgers Reinforce Bullpen with Liberatore & Venditte

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The never ending rotating arms traveling from the DL to the Dodgers to Oklahoma City and back again continues. On Friday night, the Dodgers announced that switch-pitcher Pat Venditte and left handed Adam Liberatore were recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City, Brock Stewart was optioned back to OKC, and Dennis Santana was placed on the 10-Day disabled list retroactive to June 5.

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Sizzling Dodgers’ Offense Welcomes Braves to Los Angeles

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(Mandatory Credit: Justin Berl/Getty Images)

The Dodgers just keep plugging along. Lose a starting pitcher? No problem! Lose another? No biggie! Injuries and other circumstances have had the Dodgers pushing their pitching staff to the brink. But the offense has got their pitchers’ backs, scoring enough to keep them in games everyday. They are a rather impressive 15-5 through their last 20 games, even with all the wrenches the baseball gods keep throwing their way. It’s a tight rope act right now and so far, the Dodgers have yet to fall.

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Dodgers Rumors: Caleb Ferguson Preparing for MLB Debut Against Pirates

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(Mandatory Credit: Jerry Espinoza)

This season has seen quite the rash of injuries to the Dodgers‘ pitching staff. Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda are all currently on the DL, leading to some of the Dodgers’ young arms being pressed into service sooner than they were anticipating. Walker Buehler has already made quite a few starts. Dennis Santana was brought up for his debut last weekend in Colorado. Now it appears that the next arm on his way is that of Caleb Ferguson.

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Series Preview: Dodgers Head to Pittsburgh for Final Leg of Road Trip

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Don’t look now, but the Dodgers are slowly and steadily climbing their way back up to the .500 mark and to the top of the division. 13-4 over their last 17 games, the Dodgers head into Pittsburgh this week to hopefully continue that climb.

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Despite Injuries, Clayton Kershaw Should Be a Dodger for Life

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I suppose sports are just meant to break your heart. The Dodgers have definitely done that to me so many times in the last decade or so. I fully acknowledge that sometimes, a fan is wont to think more with their heart than with their head. But there are also some players that are so rare, that you can’t help but never want them to play for any other team but yours.

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Dodgers Welcome Kapler, Phillies to Los Angeles

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The Dodgers are fresh off their third series win in a row and are 8-2 over their last 10 games. After sweeping the Nationals and taking both series from the Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres, L.A. is ready to welcome the Philadelphia Phillies to Chavez Ravine.

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Dodgers vs. Padres: Series Preview & A Few Other Notes

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The last time the Dodgers faced the San Diego Padres, things were a little different. Sure, they had a combined no hitter against them. But overall, they lost the series to the last place team and were in the midst of a dismal stretch of play.

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