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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Dodgers series preview

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The Cubs’ opponent in the 2016 and 2017 NLCS makes its first Wrigley Field appearance of 2018.

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Apart from a certain October series in 2017 that we’d probably all rather forget, the Cubs and Dodgers have not met in regular-season play in more than a calendar year. The last time they played each other in the regular season was May 26-28, 2017, another series we’d surely like to forget. That was a three-game sweep by the Dodgers in which the Cubs got shut out twice. Things are better now.

So, I asked Ryan Walton, an editor at our SB Nation Dodgers site True Blue LA, to update us on his team.

The Dodgers have come a long way since the brutal open to this season that saw them start 16-26. They’ve since gone 21-7 to put themselves back in a spot where they can contend for a playoff spot. The last 28 games have tested the Dodgers’ depth with 11 players (nine pitchers) currently on the disabled list.

If you’re looking for an example of what the Dodgers have overcome this year, look no further than Caleb Ferguson. The team used a four-man rotation this past week which included the 21-year-old, who hadn’t pitched above High-A ball before this season. They’ve gone 11-3 in June despite seven pitchers starting the 14 games and the bullpen averaging nearly five innings per game.

It’s been a big help that the offense has scored 94 runs and hit 34 homers this month. Interestingly enough, Matt Kemp and Max Muncy have been key contributors to what the Dodgers have done with the bats.

After not being expected to make the team out of spring training, Kemp was third in NL All-Star voting results last week and is hitting .338/.375/.579 with 12 homers and 16 doubles. Muncy impressed enough in Justin Turner’s absence that the Dodgers have played him at three different infield positions to keep his bat in the lineup. The 27-year-old has a .984 OPS and leads the team with 13 homers.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the season is Ross Stripling who will start Wednesday’s game. The right-hander is 6-0 with a 1.53 ERA since permanently joining the rotation on May 6. He has only allowed nine runs (eight earned) in eight starts with 59 strikeouts against only four walks.

Fun fact

In 105 regular-season games since August 25, 2017, the Dodgers are 50-55. In the same time span, the Cubs are 64-39.

Pitching matchups

Monday: Tyler Chatwood, RHP (3-5, 4.12 ERA, 1.753 WHIP, 4.77 FIP) vs. Kenta Maeda, RHP (4-4, 3.61 ERA, 1.308 WHIP, 3.02 FIP)

Tuesday: Mike Montgomery, LHP (2-2, 3.31 ERA, 1.082 WHIP, 3.89 FIP) vs. Rich Hill, LHP (1-2, 6.20 ERA, 1.743 WHIP, 6.33 FIP)

Wednesday: Jon Lester, LHP (8-2, 2.28 ERA, 1.084 WHIP, 4.18 FIP) vs. Ross Stripling, RHP (6-1, 1.76 ERA, 1.010 WHIP, 2.40 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Monday: 7:05 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago

Tuesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago

Wednesday: 1:20 p.m. CT, WGN, MLB Network (outside Chicago and Los Angeles markets)

Prediction

As noted above, the Dodgers are 21-7 since May 16. Guess who’s second-best in the N.L. since then? That’s right, the Cubs at 18-10. The pitching matchups (well, except for Monday) look pretty good for the Cubs. So I will again say: two of three.

Up next

The Cubs travel to Cincinnati for a four-game series against the Reds beginning Thursday evening.


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Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Dodgers?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    3
    (22 votes)
  • 59%
    2
    (127 votes)
  • 23%
    1
    (50 votes)
  • 6%
    0
    (14 votes)
213 votes total Vote Now