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Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers preview, Monday 6/18, 7:05 CT

This homestand will be brief (three games). Hopefully it will also be victorious.

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Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs haven’t played the Dodgers since the 2017 NLCS, enough said about that.

The Cubs haven’t played the Dodgers in the regular season in more than a year, since May 28, 2017.

And now, they’ll face the Dodgers seven times over the next 11 days, interrupted only by a four-game series in Cincinnati, and then not again until 2019, unless there’s another postseason matchup. Thanks, schedule-makers.

A few random Cubs numbers:

Cubs vs. N.L. Central: 19-14
Cubs vs. all other teams: 21-14

Cubs N.L. rank in various hitting categories:

Runs: 2nd
Runs per game: 1st
Doubles: 4th
Triples: 3rd
Home runs: 12th
Walks: 1st
BA: 1st
OBP: 1st
SLG: 3rd
OPS: 1st
OPS+: 4th

Home runs are down. Everything else is fine, including slugging percentage.

Cubs N.L. rank in various pitching categories:

Runs allowed: 1st
Runs allowed per game: 1st
ERA: 1st
ERA+: 1st
Hits per nine innings: 1st
Team shutouts: 1st
Walks: 15th

And there you see the Tyler Chatwood influence. The walks rank, last in the league (in fact, last in all of MLB), is why the team’s WHIP ranks only sixth and FIP 12th.

Last year the Cubs walked a lot of hitters, too — the 2017 Cubs pitchers ranked tied for 10th in fewest walks. In 2016 they were seventh.

Fix this and this Cubs team could go on a long winning streak.

Couple more things:

  • Addison Russell ranks second among N.L. shortstops (min. 120 AB) with a .316 batting average (42-for-133) and .378 OBP in 40 games since April 26, trailing only Brandon Crawford (.364 AVG, .421 OBP). Russell’s .837 OPS since April 26 ranks third among N.L. shortstops behind Crawford (.999) and Trevor Story (.882).
  • The Cubs bullpen has posted a 2.72 season ERA (76 ER/251⅔ IP) that ranks second among major league bullpens behind the Diamondbacks (2.57). Cubs relievers have posted a major league best .607 opponent OPS and rank second in the majors with a .207 opponents BA (189-for-912), trailing only the Yankees (.201).

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Dodgers lineup:

Tyler Chatwood, RHP vs. Kenta Maeda, RHP

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Chatwood cut down on the walks in his last start — just two in five innings. That’s a step in the right direction, though he still leads the majors in walks and walk rate.

Chatwood made four appearances (three starts) against the Dodgers last year and you probably don’t want me to tell you how many walks there were.

You insist? Fine. He walked 14 Dodgers in 13⅓ innings. Ugh. Current Dodgers are hitting .286 (30-for-105) against him... with 23 walks.

He’ll have to cut down on the walks to have any chance tonight. One more Chatwood note: He is second in the majors, inducing a 57.1 percent groundball rate among opponents … only Clayton Richard has a higher mark among starting pitchers (58.9 percent), while Dallas Keuchel is third (56.7 percent).

If he can get back to what he does best, good things will follow.

Kenta Maeda is having a solid year for the Dodgers, and his last four starts have been good: 1.69 ERA, 0.938 WHIP, though he had to leave one of those outings in the second inning with a hip strain, and missed a start as a result.

Maeda did not face the Cubs last year, except for two relief appearances in the NLCS, both scoreless innings. In fact, he’s never faced the Cubs at all in a regular-season game. In the 2016 NLCS, the Cubs handled him pretty well (seven hits, five walks, four runs in 7⅔ innings).

In short, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

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The 2018 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2017. Here’s how it works.

You’ll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).

At the same time, a StoryStream containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream “Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads” so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap in the box marked “Chicago Cubs Game Threads” at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in the game’s StoryStream as noted above.

The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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