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Series Preview: Cubs at Dodgers, May 26 – May 28, 2017

Series Previews
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The Cubs are going to Hollywood!

After their very successful nine-game home stand at Wrigley Field, the Cubs are heading out west for six games against the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Naturally, that means there are a couple of late night start times (Friday – 9:05 CT, Tuesday – 9:10 CT), so buy some coffee, ’cause it’s gonna get weird.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (25-21) finished off their four-game series win against the Giants, and wound up winning seven of nine on their homestand. With the win, they are now in sole possession of first place in the NL Central, and all is right with the world.

The Los Angeles Dodgers (28-20) helped in that process by beating the Cardinals in two of three. They’ve played quite well since facing the Cubs in the Wrigley Field opener earlier this year, but still stand in third place in the highly-competitive NL West. They have been incredible at home so far, going 18-8. Good luck, Cubs.


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Location: Dodger Stadium

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Friday, May 26 at 9:10 CT on ABC 7, MLBN, 670 The Score
  • Saturday, May 27 at 6:15 CT on FOX, 670 The Score
  • Sunday, May 28 at 3:10 CT on CSN-C, MLBN, 670 The Score

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Lineup or Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.

Chicago Cubs

Starters:

  • Jake Arrieta (4.80 ERA, 3.92 FIP, 3.77 xFIP; 3.93 K/BB)
  • John Lackey (4.82 ERA, 4.94 FIP, 3.83 xFIP; 3.67 K/BB)
  • Jon Lester (3.19 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 3.36 xFIP; 3.05 K/BB)

Approximate Lineup:

  1. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  2. Kyle Schwarber, LF
  3. Kris Bryant, 3B
  4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  5. Ian Happ, CF
  6. Willson Contreras, C
  7. Jason Heyward, RF
  8. Addison Russell, SS
  9. Pitcher

Los Angeles Dodgers

Starters:

  • Alex Wood (1.88 ERA, 1.89 FIP, 2.39 xFIP; 4.00 K/BB)
  • Brandon McCarthy (3.76 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 3.52 xFIP; 3.18 K/BB)
  • Clayton Kershaw (2.01 ERA, 2.63 FIP, 2.84 xFIP; 9.00 K/BB)

Approximate Lineup:

  1. Chase Utley, 2B
  2. Corey Seager, SS
  3. Cody Bellinger, LF
  4. Yasmani Grandal, C
  5. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  6. Chris Taylor, 3B
  7. Joc Pederson, CF
  8. Yasiel Puig, RF
  9. Pitcher

Justin Turner is on the 10-Day DL, and won’t be eligible to return until after the series. On Tuesday, Andrew Toles underwent season-ending surgery Tuesday for a torn ACL.


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Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Chicago Cubs – Pitching

Sunday’s pitching matchup – Jon Lester v. Clayton Kershaw – is sure to be one of the better matchups all season long. Kershaw is Kershaw, of course, but Lester is having a nice season of his own.

In Lester’s last start, he went the distance against the Giants and allowed just one run to score in the process. With that said, he’s been MUCH better at Wrigley Field than he has on the road. Hopefully, that trend ends Sunday.

Cubs closer Wade Davis finally allowed an earned run (two, actually), but continues to be a wonderful addition to the pen: 0.98 ERA, 2.11 FIP; 34.8 K% 8.7 BB%.


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Chicago Cubs – Offense

As noted in the Bullets, Jason Heyward has been ripping the ball all year, and especially since returning from the disabled list. Despite some extremely tough luck on the batted ball front, he’s up to .256/.336/.427 on the year, which is good for a 103 wRC+. Above average!

Anthony Rizzo is finally heating back up, which is getting a lot of deserved attention, but how about a guy we haven’t talked about as much: Willson Contreras. After a lengthy and deep slump, Contreras is hitting .313/.333/.563 since the start of that Cardinals series when he homered twice. Getting his bat going would be a huge boost to the offense.

On the flip side, Addison Russell continues to struggle mightily, see his season slash line plummet all the way to .214/.282/.346. He and Kyle Schwarber (.181/.299/.356) are battling for the early-season crown of “most disappointing start,” with each having his own set of issues (for Russell, it’s not enough hard contact; for Schwarber, it’s a surging strikeout rate and some hard luck).

Los Angeles Dodgers – Pitching

The Dodgers have the most dangerous pitching staff in baseball right now, and the worst of it (or best, rather) is coming this weekend. As a whole, they lead the Majors in ERA (3.38) and FIP (3.28), while ranking second in xFIP (3.42).


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Friday’s starter, Alex Wood, has the third best ERA in baseball among pitchers with at least 40.0 IP in 2017, while Clayton Kershaw’s is fifth best. But here’s the real kicker: all three weekend starters have FIPs in the top 13 of MLB. Clearly, the Cubs’ offense is going to have their work cut out for them. Big time.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Offense

How’s Corey Seager doing in his sophomore season? Slumping as the league adjusts? Nope. His 131 wRC+ nearly matches his mark from last year, his walk rate is way up, and every other peripheral is about the same. He’s just really good.

Breakout rookie Cody Bellinger already has 9 homers in 28 games, and is hitting .283/.342/.604, although he’s susceptible to the strikeout (29.9%).

The Dodgers are still waiting on a rebound from Yasiel Puig, who is hitting just .230/.304/.404 after down season in 2015 and 2016.


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Brett Taylor contributed to this post.


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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.

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