Cubs @ Dodgers: Series Thread (Games 68-71)
Just as the Cubs acclimate to the atmosphere at Coors, they skip off to Cally for a four-game set against the dangerous Dodgers. Having pitched a gem in the stopper role on Wednesday, Hamels will take his place in the cheering section for this one, and the rest of the rotation will get a chance to show their stuff. Good news for them is that the first three of the series will be night games, which may help them keep the ball in the yard. Quintana will have to work his way through the Sunday afternoon game. The bad news for everyone is that the Dodgers feature the most productive offense without a DH (ahead of the Cubs, who are now second in the NL in wRC+). On the other side of the ball, the LA squad may have the best defense in all of baseball, and their pitching is near the top in the NL. With the Dodgers (45-23) leading the NL in wins, any match with them will look like a post-season preview, as long as the other team is contending. The Cubs (38-29) come into the series 0.5 behind Milwaukee.
Matchups after the break.
Game 68, Thursday, 9:10pmCDT
CHC: LHP Jon Lester (5-4, 3.56 ERA)
LAD: LHP Clayton Kershaw (5-1, 3.00 ERA)
Lester pitched six innings for a the win against STL last time out, allowing four earned runs including a pair of homers. Most of the younger Dodgers have decent numbers against Lester in limited at bats, while Justin Turner is 0-20 against him.
Clayton Kershaw has been a tick less effective this season compared to the last two (both of which were well below his peak years), although he still maintains some intimidating numbers. His average fastball is all the way down to 90.5 MPH, perhaps unsurprising as the most recent phase of his career has been about working through and around injuries. After increasing his slider usage each of the last three years, Kershaw's apparently decided that throwing it 40% of the time is just the right amount. Last time out he allowed two earned runs in seven innings and was tagged with his first loss. Anthony Rizzo is 6-16 off of him with two homeruns. CarGo has not enjoyed his 47 at bats against the lefty, resulting in an OPS against of .686. Most Cubs have fewer than ten at-bats against him.
Game 69, Friday, 9:10pmCDT
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-3, 3.00 ERA)
LAD: LHP Rich Hill (3-1, 2.40 ERA)
Hendricks was excellent against the Cards, going 7 and allowing one earned run. He was a slightly more extreme version of his usual self, collecting only three strikeouts and working around eight hits (and 0 walks). Current Dodgers are 12-41 off of him with four homeruns and four walks. You may remember that he pitched a fairly important game against them back in 2016 and the Cubs ultimately did OK in that one.
After missing most of April, the former Cub, Hill, has been excellent in eight starts. He recently earned a victory against the Giants, going five and allowing two earned runs. As per usual, he's striking out more than a batter per inning and relies on his curveball over 40% of the time (slightly more than in the previous two years). Something to look out for: Hill only threw the ball in the zone 37.2% of the time in his last start, down from his season average at 59.7%. Current Cubs are 3-22 off of him.
Game 70: Saturday, 8:10pmCDT
CHC: RHP Yu Darvish (2-3, 4.98 ERA)
LAD: RHP Walker Buehler (7-1, 3.35 ERA)
Darvish got a no decision Colorado after six innings pitched and four earned runs; it's better than I would have feared when you put the words "Darvish" and "Coors" in the same sentence. He was hurt by two homeruns in the game. Current Dodgers are 5-22 off of him, a collection that excludes some of the better youngsters--most notably Bellinger.
Walker Buehler is dang good. He pitched seven scoreless against the Giants last time out, striking out nine. His fastball usually sits mid-to-high nineties, and he complements it with strong breaking pitches. He's an ace type that gets grounders and strikeouts without walking many. The Cubs are 11-40 off of him. Almora and Baez have homered. CarGo is 3-12 with five strikeouts.
Game 71, Sunday, 6:10pmCDT
CHC: LHP Jose Quintana (4-6, 3.89 ERA)
LAD: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-1, 1.36 ERA)
Quintana only got through 4.1 innings in Denver, and he allowed four runs (three earned) while taking the loss. He's lost three of his last four, giving up 13 earned runs in 21.1 innings pitched. Current Dodgers are 21-72 off of him, but only David Freese has double digit at bats.
Ryu's missed a bunch of time to injury 2015-2016 and in 2018. It's been easy to forget just how good he's been when healthy. So far, he's stepped his game up in 2019. Still, there's some hope for regression, as his .248 BABIP is almost .050 below his career mark. It's hard to imagine someone suppressing hits this well while also allowing just over half a walk per nine innings. Only three current Cubs have more than three at bats against him. CarGo is 5-15 with a homer and three walks. Rizzo is 3-9 with a homer. Heyward is 3-12.
crunch 12 min 52 sec ago (view)
1h 50min into the game and they're through 4 innings.
yesterday's game was 3h 45m.
crunch 1 hour 31 min ago (view)
lester seems to be leaving off where he was for the last couple months of the season in 2019.
no one should take anything from a february spring training start...NONETHELESS...this outing looked a lot like the ones he spent in the last couple months of the season with batters sitting around waiting to swing at lester fastballs and laying off everything else.
crunch 22 hours 5 min ago (view)
he paced for 20+HR last year and might have done it if he wasn't on unpaid leave for a while. i'd handicap him as a 15-20HR guy at worst rather than saying 20HR solid. it's probably a safer range.
his D isn't up there with the all-time greats of the game, but it's well above average for a young guy (turned 26 last month) who can also provide some pop. i think more than a few teams could slot him in as a middle IF starter without having much internal competition.
Rob Richardson 22 hours 36 min ago (view)
He hit 20+ HR only once and that was four years ago. He has a career OBP of 312, a career SLG of 392, and is his SS defense really that special anymore?
crunch 23 hours 54 min ago (view)
kinda crazy a.russell is still a free agent.
he's not the first and probably not the last domestic abuser to "serve his time" and find contracts to sign. there's a 20HR guy who plays great D at SS sitting out there while spring training is going down without him.
i wonder how much he's demanding (if that's an issue at all) vs teams that want no part of him...
First.Pitch.120 1 day 6 hours ago (view)
Don't forget the awesome taste of RizzO's !!!
crunch 1 day 19 hours ago (view)
ha. also, this reminds me that Grand Slam cereal existed in the late 90s. it was basically Kix with the marshmallows from Lucky Charms (in baseball items shape). it was actually really good.
Charlie 1 day 22 hours ago (view)
I just love cereal so much
bradsbeard 1 day 23 hours ago (view)
Yeah, both of those guys have some versatility. Could make a nice platoon if it ever came to that.
bradsbeard 1 day 23 hours ago (view)
Rooting for General Mills?
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 23 hours ago (view)
I like that they're trying Robel and Giambrone all over the diamond.
Charlie 1 day 23 hours ago (view)
I'll just be here salivating over the possibility of observing a sub-70MPH curve ball. :)
Rooting for Mills in general. Seems like fun as a 5th starter.
crunch 2 days 1 hour ago (view)
dusty baker + adam greenberg piece...
Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 1 hour ago (view)
Man this Dodger broadcast is garbage.
Sonicwind75 2 days 5 hours ago (view)
Thanks Phil for these breakdowns. Really helpful.