The Cubs and Dodgers have played about as evenly as two teams can over the last couple of seasons, since the Cubs returned to contention in 2015. The teams split 14 regular-season games from 2015-16, and of course the Cubs took the NLCS last year — but not until after trailing two games to one and being shut out twice in a row.
The Dodgers are a very good team. I asked Eric Stephen, manager of our SB Nation Dodgers site True Blue LA, to tell us a bit about his team as 2017 begins.
I am excited for this Dodgers-Cubs series, even if it is a little bit earlier in the season than we are all used to. I think the Cubs and Dodgers are the two best teams in the National League, with the Nationals right there with them. I didn't buy the initial PECOTA projection that had the Dodgers eight wins better than the Cubs; I think Chicago is still the team to beat, but that the Dodgers can hang with them in a series.
The Dodgers expected a rebound from their league-worst performance against left-handed pitching in 2016 (they hit .214/.291/.333 against southpaws last year) even if they didn't make any moves, since Scott Van Slyke, Kiké Hernandez, Justin Turner and more all have better track records against lefties than they showed in 2016. But they also added second baseman Logan Forsythe and left fielder Franklin Gutierrez, both of whom have stellar numbers against lefties. Los Angeles will certainly get a test in this series, facing both Jon Lester and Brett Anderson, so it will be interesting to see how they perform.
Alex Wood is healthy this year after missing most of the second half with elbow inflammation, and though he pitched well enough to earn a starting rotation spot this spring he was the odd man out since Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu are both healthy. Wood started the season in the bullpen, but with Rich Hill on the DL with a blister, Wood gets the call on Monday for a spot start. He's been itching to start, something he hasn't done since last Memorial Day, at Wrigley Field.
I'm looking forward to a good series and an early litmus test, and what I suspect will be the first of two visits to Wrigley Field for the Dodgers this season.
With Rich Hill on the disabled list, there are no former Cubs on the Dodgers’ active roster. Hill was also the only ex-Cub who played for the Dodgers in 2016, too.
Monday: Jon Lester (0-0, 1.80 ERA, 1.800 WHIP, 1.44 FIP) vs. Alex Wood (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.500 WHIP, 3.54 FIP)
Wednesday: John Lackey (1-0, 4.50 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, 1.71 FIP) vs. Brandon McCarthy (1-0, 3.00 ERA, 0.833 WHIP, 4.37 FIP)
Thursday: Brett Anderson (0-0, 1.59 ERA, 1.059 WHIP, 2.16 FIP) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-1, 3.86 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 4.33 FIP)
Times & TV channels
Monday: 7:05 p.m. CT, ESPN
Wednesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and Los Angeles markets)
Thursday: 1:20 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and Los Angeles markets)
The Cubs avoid having to face Clayton Kershaw in this series, so they’ve got a very good shot at taking two of three.
The Pirates come to Wrigley Field for a three-game series beginning Friday afternoon.
How many games will the Cubs win against the Dodgers?
This poll is closed