The Chicago Cubs have just exited a really nice stretch of baseball, in which they won six out of seven games. During that stretch, they scored 40 runs while allowing just 21 (+19 run differential) – and that’s including last night’s 5-0 loss.
Tonight, Jon Lester will look to build off of a really strong start against the Phillies (6.1 IP, 1ER, 6H, 2BB, 7K) and start to the year (2.48 ERA through his first ten starts).
Like I said in the Lineup Discussion earlier, David Ross will catch Lester, as usual, but he’s no longer the offensive liability he once was. In fact, he’s something of an offensive force this season (.260/.360/.479, 14.3% walk rate).
Javy Baez also grabs another start at third base tonight. And, although he hasn’t been the offensive weapon he can be just yet (.247/.286/.355), he is striking out only 18.4% of the time in about 100 plate appearances. In fact, in his last 51 plate appearances, he’s struck out just 11.8% of the time. That is genuinely significant and encouraging.
Mike Bolsinger takes the mound for the Dodgers, in what will be just his third start to the season. In his first two starts (against the Reds and Angels), Bolsinger has allowed five earned runs on ten hits (two homers), two walks and eight strikeouts in 10 innings pitched. For his career, Bolsinger has been a fair bit worse against lefties (.358 wOBA) than righties (.312 wOBA), but with Lester on the mound, Ross gets the start over Miguel Montero, and Baez gets the start over Tommy La Stella anyway.
Yasiel Puig is out again, costing the Dodgers another right-handed bat against Lester. Indeed, the Dodgers’ lineup is missing several lefty regulars, and still has quite a few in there to go up against Lester. Good team, but also a good match-up for Lester.
How about a new streak starting today, yes?
Los Angeles Dodgers (28-25) at Chicago Cubs (35-15), 7:05 CT on CSN, ESPN, 670 The Score.
Game Thread and Series Preview
Your game thread is down there in the comments, so have fun. But keep it “safe for work” type fun, all right?
Cubs: Jon Lester (L): 2.48 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 3.59 xFIP; 3.47 K/BB
Dodgers: Mike Bolsinger (R): 4.50 ERA, 4.51 FIP; 2.67 K/BB
Los Angeles Dodgers Lineup:
1. Enrique Hernandez, 2B
2. Justin Turner, 3B
3. Corey Seager, SS
4. Howie Kendrick, 3B
5. Trayce Thompson, RF
6. Joc Pederson, CF
7. A.J. Ellis, C
8. Carl Crawford, LF
9. Mike Bolsinger, P
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Jason Heyward, RF
3. Kris Bryant, LF
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Ben Zobrist, 2B
6. Addison Russell, SS
7. Javy Baez, 3B
8. David Ross, C
9. Jon Lester, P