The Dodgers look to take a series split in Chicago before returning home.
As the eternal optimist, let’s start this preview talking about how good the Dodgers’ pitching has been against the best offense in baseball. The Cubs boast one of the deepest lineups in baseball and have a great mix of high-contact hitters and power hitters. Through the first three games of the series, the Cubs have scored four runs. They’ve scored four or more runs in 34 of the 51 games they’ve played this season. Their runs in the series have come on a Kris Bryant two-run homer, an Anthony Rizzo double and an infield single. They haven’t faced Clayton Kershaw or Kenley Jansen.
Nonetheless, the offense has been quiet during the series and the Dodgers have lost two of the three games. They piled on runs late in game two of the series and got off to a hot start yesterday as Enrique Hernandez hit the second pitch of the game into the bleachers, but they only managed to get three more hits after that. The Cubs only had three hits all game, but one of them left the ballpark and it came after a walk. Such is life.
Kenta Maeda was slated to start today, but the Dodgers did some rotation-shifting to buy him an extra day to rest his hand, which was struck by a comebacker in his last start. Julio Urias will start today, while Maeda will throw tomorrow in LA and Clayton Kershaw will be bumped back to Saturday, which would have been Alex Wood‘s rotation spot. Doing this also allows Kershaw to throw next Friday in San Francisco.
Urias’ debut obviously didn’t go according to plan, as he needed 81 pitches to get through 2.2 innings in New York. He got squeezed by the ump, he got BABIP’d, and his control was just not there for his whole outing. So now he gets to go face an offensive juggernaut.
Kyle Hendricks gets the ball for the Cubs tomorrow, and ideally the Dodgers could maybe score more than one against him. Hendricks has been great this year, as he owns a 2.93 ERA/2.78 FIP in his nine starts this season. He’s only gone past seven innings once this season, as he threw a complete game in his last outing. Hendricks doesn’t strike a ton of people out or walk a lot of people, but he’s only allowed two home runs this season.
Yasiel Puig pinch-hit yesterday, but remains out of the lineup. This means Carl Crawford starts, which means much of Dodger twitter is unhappy. I get that his 0-fors are annoying and his love of swinging at the first pitch is annoying, but yesterday the Dodgers had four players get on base. Crawford is hardly the only player on the team to fail to reach base, but good lord is Dodger twitter unbearable when he makes an out. He saw 16 pitches yesterday, only fewer than Corey Seager. Crawford definitely shouldn’t be a starter and if his contract wasn’t so horrible, he’d absolutely have been DFA’d by now, but Dodger twitter treats him like he’s kicked all of their puppies.
/rant. A.J. Ellis starts for the second straight game. Yasmani Grandal‘s framing didn’t do Urias any favors in his debut, so the Dodgers are turning to Ellis, who is known as one of the best game callers in baseball. Hopefully that helps the kid manage this tough lineup.
First pitch is scheduled for 11:20 PST and will be shown on Sportsnet LA.