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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Dodgers series preview

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This one’s not going to be easy. (Baseball isn’t. But this series will be tougher than most.)

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs took two of three from the Dodgers at Wrigley Field in April. Since that series, L.A. has been the best team in the National League at 29-12, though the Cubs aren’t that far behind that pace at 26-18.

For more on the Dodgers, here’s Elizabeth Islas, manager of our SB Nation Dodgers site True Blue LA.

The Dodgers aren’t accustomed to losing, but it’s something they’ve been dealing with as of late. Over the last week, they are 2-4, which is quite unusual. They are coming out of a two-game series sweep at the hands of the crosstown rival Angels, who are two games under .500, while the Dodgers are 22 games over .500. Not their proudest moment.

It’s no secret that the Dodgers bullpen is the team’s weakest spot, and there are several occasions where this weakness has been exploited. One of these came on Monday in the Freeway Series. Mike Trout and Co. came back from a 3-1 deficit, taking full advantage of relievers Dylan Floro and Joe Kelly. Both manager Dave Roberts and president Andrew Friedman have faith the bullpen woes will work themselves out, but fans aren’t convinced.

In more news, shortstop Corey Seager is likely going to find himself on the injured list after finally getting heated up. In Tuesday evening’s contest, he had to leave the game with an apparent hamstring injury. This is definitely going to hurt the offense’s productivity, as Seager has a .425/.465/.675 slash line in the month of June.

On the flip side, the Dodgers have a starting rotation for the ages. All five of the starters are gems and constantly provide long, solid outings to make room for the offense to flourish. Someone on the offense who is flourishing? Cody Bellinger. The 23-year-old is leading the team in all batting categories. Yes. All of them. Plus, his .352 batting average leads the majors. So yes, he’s good.

Basically, this is a long-winded way of saying the Dodgers starting pitching and offense is great and the bullpen ... not so much. Cheers to the next four games!

Fun fact

Since the Cubs returned to contention in 2015, the teams have exactly split 30 games 15-15. The series has a definite home-team flavor; the Cubs are 11-6 against the Dodgers at Wrigley Field, and the Dodgers 9-4 against the Cubs at Dodger Stadium.

The Cubs won the season series from the Dodgers in 2015 and 2017, and the Dodgers won it in 2016 and 2018. This is an odd-numbered year, so...

The teams split a four-game set in Los Angeles last year.

Those numbers don’t include the two NLCS the teams have played in that time frame, each team winning one.

Pitching matchups

Thursday: Jon Lester, LHP (5-4, 3.56 ERA, 1.294 WHIP, 3.91 FIP) vs. Clayton Kershaw, LHP (5-1, 3.00 ERA, 1.045 WHIP, 3.39 FIP)

Friday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (7-4, 3.00 ERA, 1.107 WHIP, 3.11 FIP) vs. Rich Hill, LHP (3-1, 2.40 ERA, 1.156 WHIP, 4.08 FIP)

Saturday: Yu Darvish, RHP (2-3, 4.98 ERA, 1.479 WHIP, 5.27 FIP) vs. Walker Buehler, RHP (7-1, 3.35 ERA, 0.982 WHIP, 3.01 FIP)

Sunday: Jose Quintana, LHP (4-6, 3.89 ERA, 1.309 WHIP, 3.63 FIP) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP (9-1, 1.36 ERA, 0.802 WHIP, 2.62 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Thursday: 9:10 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago Plus

Friday: 9:10 p.m. CT, WGN

Saturday: 8:10 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago, MLB Network (outside Cubs and Dodgers market territories)

Sunday: 6:05 p.m., ESPN

Prediction

This will be the toughest series of the year for the Cubs so far. The Cubs have not played well on the road and the Dodgers enter this series with the best home record in the major leagues, 25-7.

On the other hand, the Cubs did win two of three from L.A. back in April at Wrigley Field, and with a bit more timely hitting could have swept that series. Also, the Dodgers have lost four of their last six, three of those to teams with losing records (Giants and Angels).

All that leads me to think the Cubs can come away from this series with a split, two wins in the four games.

Up next

The Cubs have Monday off, then host the White Sox in a two-game series beginning Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, the first two games of a 10-game homestand.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Dodgers?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    4
    (35 votes)
  • 13%
    3
    (49 votes)
  • 38%
    2
    (145 votes)
  • 33%
    1
    (127 votes)
  • 4%
    0
    (18 votes)
374 votes total Vote Now