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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Dodgers series preview

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These two teams have played a lot of games against each other since the start of 2016.

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

This question was raised here yesterday: Why was Monday an off day, when the Dodgers were coming in from Milwaukee (easy travel) and the Cubs were at home?

First, the Dodgers had completed playing 17 straight games Sunday, an odyssey that took them from Denver to St. Louis to Los Angeles to Milwaukee. That seems as good a reason as any for an off day.

Further, it’s better for the Cubs to have an off day at home instead of on the road (Thursday). With an afternoon game Sunday and night game Tuesday, Cubs players got nearly 48 hours off at home (especially since Sunday’s game ended so early).

If the series had been scheduled Monday night/Tuesday night/Wednesday afternoon, the Cubs would have flown to Phoenix right after the game Wednesday and had to cool their heels in Arizona for a couple days until Friday night’s game at Chase Field.

Now, it’s pretty nice and not too hot in the Phoenix area this time of year, but I’m betting the Cubs would have rather spent their off day at home, especially since they’ll be spending another off day in Seattle next Monday.

The Monday off day worked for both teams. It really is that simple.

On to this series: The Dodgers are a hot team right now, coming off a series win in Milwaukee (and thank you for that!). For more on the Dodgers, here’s Blake Harris, deputy manager of our SB Nation Dodgers site True Blue LA.

After taking three of four games this past weekend in Milwaukee, the Dodgers currently have the most wins in the National League. A large reason of the teams early success falls into the hands of early MVP candidate, Cody Bellinger. Through the first few weeks, Bellinger has been the hottest hitter in baseball. He leads all of baseball with 36 hits and an average of .424. He’s also second in home runs (11) and RBI (28). On Sunday, Bellinger hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning against Josh Hader.

Bellinger hasn’t been the only one who’s been hot at the plate. Joc Pederson is tied for third in the league with 10 home runs. Pederson has been a perfect fit as LA’s lead-off hitter. He’s hit 10 homers to lead off a game since the start of last season, which is the most in the MLB.

If you should pinpoint a weakness so far this year for the Dodgers, it has been their bullpen. Through 24 games, the bullpen has an ERA of 4.91. Four out of the nine losses have come courtesy of the bullpen. Joe Kelly, who signed with LA in the off-season, has allowed 17 hits and 11 runs in only 10 innings of work. Pedro Baez has struggled as well, allowing 10 runs in 13⅔ innings of relief. Kenley Jansen has struggled early on as well, as he’s allowed six runs in 11⅔ innings of work.

Fun fact

The Dodgers lead the N.L. in runs with 136. They’re tied for the fifth-most runs allowed (with the Marlins!), 107. Meanwhile, the Cubs are fourth-best in fewest runs allowed, 93, but are ninth in runs scored with 110 (although, just nine runs behind the fourth-place Mets). The Cubs rank third in runs per game (5.50), the Dodgers second (5.67).

Something’s gotta give.

Pitching matchups

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)

NOTE: As of publication time it was possible that Jon Lester could be activated from the injured list to start Thursday’s game, pushing Hendricks back to Friday against Arizona.

Times & TV channels

Tuesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, MLB Network (outside Cubs and Dodgers market territories)

Wednesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, WGN

Thursday: 1:20 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, MLB Network (outside Cubs and Dodgers market territories)

Prediction

Well, this ought to be interesting. The Dodgers just took three of four in Milwaukee and have won seven of their last eight... but before that, they lost six in a row. And before that, they won five straight. Streak much?

The Cubs are also streaking, having won eight of their last 11.

It’s nice to see pitching matchups where the numbers are more even, or even favorable to the Cubs. I think they can take two of three in this series.

Up next

Back to the future, it’s the Diamondbacks again for a three-game series, this time in Phoenix, beginning Friday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Dodgers?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    3
    (52 votes)
  • 56%
    2
    (218 votes)
  • 22%
    1
    (85 votes)
  • 7%
    0
    (30 votes)
385 votes total Vote Now