The Cubs took advantage of the series in Oakland to boost their offensive statistics and their standing in the NL Central. They are still behind the Brewers, but the favored Cardinals are now 4th in the division at 8-11 while the Cubs are five over .500 at 11-6. The Dodgers will visit them at Wrigley, having lost two of three to the Cubs in L.A. See below for matchups int he four-game set.
Game 18, Thursday, April 20, 6:40 pm central
LAD: RHP Michael Grove (0-1, 9.00 ERA)
CHC: RHP Jameson Taillon (0-2, 4.50 ERA)
Grove faced the Cubs on April 15 and surrendered a solo homerun while striking out six. Wisdom took him deep.
Taillon converted on improved stuff and command in his third start to throw five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. It wasn't enough to earn him a win in L.A., but he'll try his luck again at home.
Game 19, Friday, April 21, 1:20 pm central
LAD: LHP Julio Urias (3-1, 1.90 ERA)
CHC: LHP Drew Smyly (1-1, 4.70 ERA)
Urias took a loss to the Cubs on the 16th, allowed two earned runs and one unearned on a pair of homers. He struck out six and walked one. Bellinger and Wisdom tallied the homeruns.
Smyly earned his first win of the season in L.A., going 5.2 and allowing one earned run on a solo homer. He had pitched better in his second second start, but the offense showed up enough for him to exit with a lead on try number three.
Game 20, Saturday, April 22, 1:20 pm central
LAD: LHP Clayton Kershaw (3-1, 2.52 ERA) [Edit: Dustin May to start]
CHC: RHP Hayden Wesneski (1-0, 4.15 ERA) [Correction: 6.23 ERA]
The Cubs dodged Kershaw in the last series. The future Hall of Famer is off to a fine start in 2-23, still striking out more than a batter per inning and remaining very stingy with walks. He's gone at least six innings in each of his four starts so far.
Wesneski rebounded from an awful second start to strike out seven A's over seven innings and walk none. He allowed a single earned run on five hits and earned his first win of the season. He was a touch more aggressive in the zone and benefited from more chases out of the zone by the A's. His first-pitch strike percentage rose from the mid 40s in his first two starts up to over 80%.
Game 21, Sunday, April 23, 1:20 pm central
LAD: RHP Dustin May (1-1, 3.00 ERA) [Edit: Clayton Kershaw to start]
CHC: RHP Marcus Stroman (2-1, 0.75 ERA)
The Cubs will be getting their first look of the year at Dustin May. He's looking to make his first full MLB season without a significant injury interruption, having been sidelined for long stretches of the last three years due to a back injury and Tommy John surgery. His strikeout rate is weirdly low so far this season, but an absurdly low homeruns per nine innings is balancing out his results. He's still throwing in the upper 90s after TJS and has a low 90s cutter and mid 80s curve to round things out.
Stroman exited a scoreless game in Oakland after six innings. He struck out five and allowed two hits and two walks. He'll have this and another start to make his bid for NL Pitcher of the Month.