Series Preview: Cubs @ Dodgers, 5/26 - 5/28

It appears as though the Cubs are back. The hangover is over, and they are going to play like defending champions instead of also-rans. This feels like a bold statement to make, as many Cubs fans are still clenching their teeth even through the victories, but I’m confident in it. This is a tough matchup in Los Angeles, but our guys have handled playing there rather well of late, so after rolling through last year’s NLDS foe, I think they can do the same in this NLCS rematch.

The difference maker has been the pitching. Even Eddie Butler pitched respectably yesterday, but the success of the team over the long haul doesn’t really ride on him. When Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks, at the very least, can pitch well, the Cubs will win with consistency. The offense is fine, the defense is improving, and now the pitching is filling in that final gap that had kept them from first place in the division. They have shaken off the collective fog that came from a long and taxing run through the postseason and then a winter of celebration. All good things, but there was an evident carryover into this season. But that’s gone now. And the Cubs have climbed back to the top of the NL Central, so it’s time to really put last season behind them and grow their lead.

They come in to face the Dodgers who, though they are 28-20, sit in third place in the NL West. Just 2.5 games back of the Rockies and a game behind the Diamondbacks, they are 6-4 in their last 10 games. It’s an important time for both teams because May is coming to a close, and soon the scuffling can no longer be written off to the season being young.

Watch/Listen:

Friday: 9:10 pm CT – ABC/670 AM

Saturday: 6:15 pm CT – FOX/670 AM

Sunday: 3:10 pm CT – CSN/670 AM

Bullpen Usage Chart:

A wonderfully rested bullpen going into six games in six days on the west coast. That’s a very good thing.

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Opposing Pitchers: Courtesy of Brooks Baseball

Friday: Alex Wood – His sinker generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, has well above average velo and has little sinking action compared to a true sinker. His change is thrown extremely hard, is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups, has slight armside fade and has some natural sink to it. His curve is thrown extremely hard, is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ curves, has little depth and has primarily 12-6 movement. His fourseam fastball (take this with a grain of salt because he’s only thrown 5 of them in 2017) generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, explodes on the hitter, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, is blazing fast and has slight armside run.

Saturday: Brandon McCarthy – His sinker has slightly above average velo. His cutter has well above average velo and has good “rise”. His curve is slightly harder than usual and has slight glove-side movement. His fourseam fastball generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers and has essentially average velo. His change is thrown extremely hard, is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ changeups, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups and has slight armside fade.

Sunday: Clayton Kershaw – His fourseam fastball is straight as an arrow, explodes on the hitter, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers and has slightly above average velo. His slider is thrown extremely hard, has much less depth than expected, generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ sliders and results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sliders. His curve has an exceptional bite, has primarily 12-6 movement and has slightly below average velo. His change has surprising cut action, is much firmer than usual, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups and has an extreme amount of backspin. His sinker (take this with a grain of salt because he’s only thrown 10 of them in 2017) generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, is blazing fast, has surprisingly little armside run and has virtually no sinking action reminiscent of a true sinker.

Final Thoughts:

The Sunday pitching matchup is epic, and Jake Arrieta loves pitching in California:

 

This series might hinge on Saturday, but the Cubs are in a good place right now, and they won the series against the Dodgers in Chicago in April. Bet on them to win this one, too.

Filed under: Series Preview

Tags: Los Angeles Dodgers

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  • A 4/2 or 5/1 winning road trip would be better than this weekend's Viagara :)

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    I often wonder if I'm interpreting people's usernames correctly. Mine is pretty straightforward, your's is a little more ambiguous. But yeah, I think you just confirmed my first instinct.

    Go Cubs, and um, Go Wickdipper!

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    After your admission, you officially have been banned from Cubs Den HOF consideration as an admitted PED user. LOL.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Bahahahahahaha......you guys are great!
    In reality that name probably applied 40 years ago but things change........(sigh.......) and no longer applies.......

    BUT.......

    The one thing that will never change is the lifelong love of this team that broke my heart more than any lady........and finally.....FINALLY, got it right last year. It's a great time to be a Cub fan!

  • There may be a typo in L.A.'s bullpen usage chart. You have Pedro Baez throwing 14 pitches on Tuesday. I find it hard to believe he had enough time to throw that many pitches in a single day.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I thought the same thing. I'm an east coaster, I probably can't stay up to the start time, even if the Cubs get to the bullpen in the first inning, I'll likely be asleep. I'm hoping Pedro gets used up tonight so I' don't have to suffer through his one hour inning the rest of the series.

  • Small request, can you maybe add the pitching match-ups in series previews. The last sentence, to me, sounded like Arrieta Sunday. I get now.
    Arrieta vs. Wood
    Lackey vs. McCarthey
    Lester vs. Kershaw

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    I had to double check that too as it sounded like we had a Jake vs Kershaw Sunday afternoon tilt, but its Lester vs Kershaw and Jake going tonight.

    I just hope we see the good Jake tonight, because if we do this is going to be a great series. Both teams have very well rested bullpens even after both played yesterday. IMO, this is the NLCS preview, again.

  • Jake Arrieta last 6 regular season starts in the state of California:0.20 ERA, 45.0 IP, 15 Hits, 1 ER, 9 BB, 44 K, 0 HR#Cubs— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 26, 2017

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    What do you guys think about this new lineup? Looks like the Schwarbenator is now a platoon player, as he has sat against the last 4 LH starters.

    Zobrist LF
    Bryant 3B
    Rizzo 1B
    Happ CF
    Contreras C
    Heyward RF
    Javy 2B
    Russell SS
    Snake P

    Glad to see Willy back in the lineup. Playing defense in this large outfield is going to be a real test for Happ.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I like the lineup. Schwarber gets the day off against a tough leftie, and it's good to see Willson catching Jake. One thing that has surprised me is seeing Happ in CF. I'm not surprised he's here, as I've been forceful in saying he will take La Stella's roster spot, but even I'm surprised at how soon. I read all the time Happ's natural position is 2B, but I don't know I agree with that. I thought at this stage he was more suited for a corner outfield spot, but the CF gig gets him in the lineup. I'm more defensive-oriented, but if he hits and can hold his own in CF, cool. And that leaves more playing time for Javy.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    If 2b is his natural position that he'd be expected to play, I'm very shocked he hasn't played there. I think I read they were going to try him at 3b or 1b. I think it's very odd he hasn't played at second yet, even in mop up duty.

  • Has Happ supplanted the Almora/Jay/Heyward center field? He seems to be the preferred guy right now. Is Happ a real long term center field option or is that just the easiest way to get his bat into the lineup? If so, is Almora a trade possibility?

  • In reply to Mom2futurecubs:

    For me, I think it's going with the hot bat right now and getting Happ into the line-up without sacrificing offense at other positions with a happy byproduct of showcasing Happ.

    Showing MLB GMs that Happ can play an average or better CF is the best way to raise his trade value.

  • In reply to Mom2futurecubs:

    We'll see. I thought he's looked good there, actually. At the plate, it seemed like teams initially tried to get him out by trying to get him to chase outside the strike zone, but that didn't work. But now it seems like he's being challenged with fastballs, and that is working.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    His defensive numbers in a small sample size aren't great but he does make the plays he can get to. Gritty player but I'm not sure I want him in CF with Schwarber in LF long term. I'd really like to see Almora play more out there.

  • Going to the games tonight and Sunday. The last Cubs game I went to was also against the Dodgers, but that time it was in Wrigley. Game 6 of the NLCS.

    I'll be wearing my championship hat tonight. I'm sure I'll take a lot of poop for it from Dodger fans, but it'll be worth it.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    We will be looking for you. Have fun and be safe!

  • I will also be there tonight wearing my Championship hat. I suspect there will be many championship hats being worn tonight, and none of them with a Dodgers logo as those things are almost 30 years old now.

  • In reply to West Coast Cubs Fan:

    I want to wish you both well, and wanted to do some antagonistic-type lyrics to support your wearing enemy colors in hostile territory. But whenever I think of rock and roll and L.A., one band comes to mind. Ya'll have fun watching a Cubs victory, and I hope this will do:

    "Indians scattered on dawn's highway, bleeding...
    Ghosts crowd the young child's fragile eggshell mind."

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    Some switch has flipped in Alex Wood's head or a combo of maturity/Dodgers coaching him up, but I have watched about 4-5 of his starts this year and he doesn't look anything like the guy Braves sold a little low on/ guy his first year w the Dodgers.

    He looks like the guy scouts loved coming up in the Braves system and the young stud he showed glimpses of his first 2 years as a Brave.

    Hopefully the Cubs can put a crooked number up on him and get his ERA IN THE 2's

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    Addy is in a real funk. Poor guy is swinging at some really ugly pitches........Could it be his eyes or just he's lost confidence in his pitch recognition ?

    Least Alex Wood is at 40+ pitches after 2 innings.

  • The guy broadcasting with Hershieser is flat out Milo Hamilton annoying....

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    Now that Vin Scully is retired, I don't ever look for the Dodgers home broadcast.

    Ball seems to be flying pretty well off the Dodger bats. I think the Cubs can come back from this 2-0 deficit

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    Please don't waste this good Jake start boys

  • First of all, let us all remember what we're celebrating this weekend. Thank you to all who have served, and never forget those who gave all so we can indulge in the pleasures of baseball.

    We have about the best defense possible on the field today, and Lester's been on a roll. Kershaw is always a tough opponent but I think we're up to the task. Hopefully hitting lead-off will force Javy into actually taking a couple pitches, but a single Javy-bomb could win this game.

    Go Cubs!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    You called the Javy bomb (side note I love Javy), but that one isn't going to be enough today

  • I've mentioned this a couple times but why don't we keep Baez and trade Russell? Baez's name gets thrown out there a lot in trade rumors. I honestly think he is better defensively and offensively.

  • In reply to Abe 214:

    It seems people have been brainwashed into automatically believing russell is better.I agree baez is better than russell.Baez currently has more hr's and rbi's in 30 less ab's higher ops,batting average and he's a better baserunner/tagger.Add Stronger more versatile defender too.For the life of me I don't understand why russell has been labeled "untouchable"

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    In reply to bolla:

    Russell has been tabbed untouchable because certain people have took Billy Beane calling him "Barry Larkin" as scripture and have run w that narrative. Theres the explanation.

    Even if he's not hurt, but I believe his shoulder is still a little balky so I wish they would just put him on the 10 day DL and then let him have a little vacation weekend w Iowa and mash for 2-3 games and come back. The rest can only help health wise and head wise.

    Please send Happ back to AAA before he gets to .180. Maybe he adjusts and bounces back in SD, but at least he knows which way pitchers are pitching him and what he needs to work on in Iowa whenever he gets there. I just hope they don't hurt by letting him struggle for the next 2 weeks.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I thought about including Bean's "I just traded you Barry Larkin" quote in my response. That is the type of thing that sticks in a lazy media's memory.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Unfortunately its not just the media although they seem to be the ones w the "Agenda"

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Yea I completely agree with everything you said.Happ started out great but been struggling lately.Which was expected.

  • In reply to Abe 214:

    That's a good question, and one I've been thinking about. My preference is to keep both, but that doesn't delve into the "why" of the lopsided speculation.

    I could put together a long response citing past performance, current production, and future projections, but I haven't. Russell is a year younger, and probably has a more stable floor, though at this point both Russell and Javy's floors have been well established. Russell can be more smooth, and Javy more electric. I don't know a single baseball expert who doesn't agree Javy has the higher ceiling. For all our fan noise, we are talking about kids who are 23 and 24 years old. And both are among the most talented young players in the game.

    I think the "Russell is untouchable and Baez is expendable" notion is driven by a lazy media, who often recycle stories rather than do honest work. Many fans, especially us old farts here, have been around a while, but for some of the media, the Cubs were born somewhere around 2014. Russell was one of the "first" big moves, and the media can identify with that specific, high-profile trade. Baez is simply leftover junk from another time before the real Cubs existed. I honestly think most of the reason you see the "trade Baez, Russell in untouchable" narrative stems from this pervasive group-think and lack of original thought and baseball knowledge.

    I could be wrong, and I welcome people offering their opinions of why I might be. This is probably a moot point, and I expect to drool over a Russell-Baez DP combination for at least a couple more years. But IMO, the simple answer to your question is the repeated narrative pushed by a lazy media.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Your on to something w half your point. "Baez is simply leftover junk from another time before the real cubs existed "

    The narrative which may be lazy is Addison is a "Theo guy" while Javy is not. Right now, I honestly can't really say w any certainty that Russell's plate awareness and strike zone control is that much better then Javy's to warrant the label as a "Theo Guy". To me, they both seem to need a lot of improvement in that area to truly be considered "Theo guys".

  • Another point about baez , in the playoffs he was the only cubs hitter besides bryant who was consistent(until the world series).The rest of the team slumped until game 4 of the nlcs.Baez had the critical hits in game 1 and game 4 of the nlds and hit .318 and played spectacular defense in the nlcs.He showed up when it mattered before resorting to bad habits in the world series, probably too hyped in the ws same with contreras.

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