Dodger / Cubs chasing 1st place
The two teams who met in the 2017 NLCS will square off for the first time in 2018 with both teams in strange positions for them. The Dodgers are in 2nd place chasing the Diamondbacks, while the Cubs are in second place chasing the surprising Brewers.
Both teams appear to have enough talent to eventually bring down the upstarts who lead their respective divisions but first off they will need to deal with each other since they play each other seven times in the next ten games.
The Dodgers won the 2017 NLCS on the strength of an offense that included massive contributions from Charlie Culberson and Kiké, along with the pitching of Clayton, Yu Darvish, and Rich Hill. Charlie Culberson is gone, and plying his trade with the Braves. Yu Darvish signed with the Cubs and has been either hurt or ineffective so far. Clayton is on the disabled list leaving only Rich Hill and Kiké from the main group of players who brought down the Cubs last fall. Rich Hill will make his first start May 19th a start that never really happened since he never took the mound and threw a pitch even though it does show up in game logs as a start.
In this series, the Dodgers are almost back to full-strength with only Clayton Kershaw missing from the original rotation. Walker Buehler is also out so you could say the Cubs will get to play the Dodgers without having to face their two best pitchers. We can only hope that if we face off in October, that Clayton and Walker will be healthy enough to be part of that postseason matchup.
The Cubs are somewhat healthy. Yu Darvish is the only player of note on the disabled list. Javier Baez was removed from the game Sunday Night after being hit on the hand so I’m not sure what his status will be for this series.
Just like the Dodgers, the Cubs had been hot until Sunday. The Dodger offense was limited to one run on Sunday, the Cubs were shutout.
Just a few Cub Notes:
- Kris Byrant has an overall 2018 slug% of .483, but in June has only one double and one home run for a June slug% of .340. Over the last 28 days, he has a slug% of .319. Yikes
- No one on the Cubs is red-hot though Addison Russell does have a June OPS of .883. That is the best the Cubs have in June. The Dodgers, on the other hand, have five players with an OPS over .999 in the month of June.
- Brandon Morrow has been outstanding as the Cub closer giving them exactly what they paid for.
- The Dodgers will face two left-handers so Kiké will get his opportunity to get reacquainted with Cub fans who have been throwing darts at him all winter after one of the greatest offensive NLCS games in history.