Dodgers Cubs Game One Preview


The Dodgers are finally back at home and are set to open up a three game set against a likely playoff team.

Fresh off a useless series loss against the Giants, the Cubs currently own the third best record in the NL and the fourth best in baseball. Unfortunately for them, the three NL teams with a better record than the Cubs are their division rivals in Pittsburgh and St. Louis, so they’re likely headed to the one-game Wild Card game.

They lost to Madison Bumgarner yesterday, and today they get to face Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has been insane since the all star break, with a 1.00 ERA (1.40 FIP) and a .685 FIP (!) in seven starts (54 innings) in the second half. He’s somehow been overshadowed by the ridiculous season Zack Greinke has put together, but Kershaw may be the only pitcher that can give Greinke a run for his second Cy Young award.

Aug 23, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler (24) runs the bases after hitting a home run during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs beat Kershaw when they squared off in the Windy City back in June. The two teams split the four-game series, and Kershaw gave up three runs in seven innings (which for humans would be great, but for Kershaw it’s terrible) and it marked the first time a team had hit two homers off Kershaw since Milwaukee did so in last August.

One of those homers came off the bat of Kris Bryant (the other was hit by Matt Szczur, TF??). Bryant is putting together an impressive Rookie of the Year resumé with a .265/.367/.480 slashline and 20 homers, but he also leads the NL in strikeouts with 152. Before you get snarky, Joc Pederson has 143 in 17 fewer plate appearances.

Dexter Fowler has missed the last couple games with a shin/hand injury, but he will be back tonight to face Kershaw. In 44 career plate appearances against Kershaw (slightly aided by Coors Field), Fowler has a .425/.477/.525 slashline. He’s the only Cub with a lot of success in a not-tiny sample size against Kershaw, so him not playing would be nice.

The Dodgers get to face Jason Hammel, who allowed two hits and two walks in seven 2/3 innings against them back in June. Since the all-star break, Hammel has only pitched more than five innings twice in seven starts, so the Dodgers could also have their work cut out against the Cubs’ bullpen.

In 15 career games (11 starts) against the Dodgers, Hammel is 2-5 with a 4.90 ERA. Four of those starts and seven of those appearances came at Dodger Stadium, where he’s never won a game and has a 4.82 ERA. Andre Ethier is 9-27 in the past off Hammel with two homers in the past, and Adrian Gonzalez, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have also taken Hammel deep.

The big news from today isn’t in the lineup (although it’s really good to see AGon back in there after leaving yesterday’s game). Yasiel Puig‘s name isn’t listed on the lineup card, and Jose Peraza‘s is. Puig came up lame after beating out an infield single in yesterdays’s game and a DL stint seems imminent. Peraza can play in the outfield as well as second, and his versatility will probably be welcomed on the team.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PST and will be shown on Sportsnet LA.