Cubs vs. Dodgers: Series Thread (Games 29-31)
The Cubs dropped the final game in Cincinnati in dramatic fashion, letting the back-and-forth slugfest fade away with a soft single from Castellanos. It was a more competitive series than many we've seen from the Cubs this year. But it was also costly. They are now 4 games under .500 at 12-16, in last place, and likely down Ian Happ (3-5 with a homer in the game) who had to be taken off the field after a nasty collision with Nico Hoerner in shallow center field. The extent of Happ's injuries have not yet been reported in detail, but it would be shocking if he were right back at it for the next game. Jake Marisnick is the most likely to see playing time in center if Happ is out, but Joc Pederson is eligible to return and the Cubs could get creative in the corner outfield spots if they want to start Heyward in CF.
The 17-12 LA Dodgers roll into Wrigley with a trio of aces ready to kick the Cubs while they are down. LA enters the series third in the NL in runs scored and first in WRC+. They're also third in the NL in ERA. Cubs fans have been hoping to see the team find their footing going back to April 17, when a 13-4 win vs. Atlanta looked like a sign of the offense breaking out. More than two weeks later, the north siders are still trying to get their legs under them, now with some of the toughest competition in the league in their way. See below for nightmare fuel the pitching matchups.
Game 29, Monday, May 3, 6:40 pm central
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-3, 7.54 ERA)
LAD: RHP Walker Buehler (1-0, 3.16 ERA)
Hendricks continued a frustrating start to the season, having possibly his worst start thus far in a loss to Atlanta. He allowed 7 earned runs for the second time this year, this time going only 3.2 innings. Issuing zero walks would be a silver lining if not for the fact he got hammered to the tune of 11 hits, including three homeruns. He's had two perfectly fine starts this year, which give some hope that his command might return at any time.
Walker Buehler has come into 2021 like he made a resolution not to issue any free passes. He's struck out 31 and walked only 2 in 31.1 innings. In his last start he allowed 5 earned runs while striking out 10 Cinicinnati Reds. Most current Cubs have seen little of Buehler. Tony Wolters is 1 for 17. Kris Bryant is 3 for 6.
Game 30, Tuesday, May 4, 6:40 pm central
CHC: RHP Adbert Alzolay (1-2, 4.71 ERA)
LAD: LHP Clayton Kershaw (4-2, 2.09 ERA)
Adbert Alzolay pitched 6 innings to earn a win against Atlanta's Bryse Wilson on April 29. It was his third solid start in a row. He leaned heavily on his breaking ball, with pitch tracking counting more than 50% of his pitches as sliders. He has a few shapes to that breaking ball though--I'm not convinced a few of those weren't variants of his curve. This will be the Dodgers' first look at Alzolay.
Kershaw had looked to be on the decline from 2017-2019, putting up very good numbers but nothing quite like his peak years. Then in 2020 he pitched like a beast and he has kept up that act so far in 2021. He pitched seven scoreless innings against the Reds in his last start, earning his fourth win on the season and his 179th in his career. Javy (4 for 8), Bryant (2 for 4), Contreras (3 for 7), and Rizzo (4 for 8) have all had some success in limited regular season appearances against the veteran lefty.
Game 31, Wednesday, May 5, 6:40 pm central
CHC: RHP Jake Arrieta (3-3, 4.31 ERA)
LAD: RHP Trevor Bauer (3-1, 2.48 ERA)
After making five straight solid starts, Arrieta turned in a clunker his sixth time out. He allowed three homeruns and seven earned runs in 3.2 innings pitched, bloating his ERA by almost a run and a half. Hopefully, he can get back to competitive if not dominating starts. Max Muncy is 4 for 10 with two homeruns and Corey Seager is 4 for 8 with a single homerun off of Arrieta.
Trevor Bauer cashed in on his Cy Young performance in the shortened 2020 to sign with the NL's foremost behemoth. In the early going, he's nearly picked up where he left off. He's struck out well over a batter per inning while limiting walks and holding opponents to an absurd 14.9% line drive rate. Last time, he went 8 innings deep in a loss to the Brewers in which he allowed two earned runs on only 4 hits and 2 walks. Rizzo is 6 for 14 with 2 homeruns off of Bauer.