Series Preview: Cubs at Dodgers, June 24 - June 27, 2021

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Series Preview: Cubs at Dodgers, June 24 – June 27, 2021

Chicago Cubs

Well, here we are: the end of the month, with the toughest two hills yet to climb. First the Cubs will play ANOTHER four-game set on the road against one of the unanimous top-3 teams in MLB, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The San Francisco Giants took 3 of 4 when the Cubs came to town last time, and without Kyle Hendricks pitching in this series, you’ve got to wonder if that should be our baseline goal for the weekend. After this, the Cubs will fly to Milwaukee to face first-place Brewers for three straight at Wrigley North, before the schedule finally lightens up a bit and we approach the All-Star break.

If you take 3 of these next seven games, you’re probably feeling fine. If you take 4, it’s golden. Anything more, and you’re really, really happy.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (41-33) dropped a half-game out of first place by not playing yesterday, though they remain tied with the Brewers in the loss column. The Cubs are still above water in June (11-10) , and I’d like to keep it that way through the end of the month. The Los Angeles Dodgers (44-30) have three games on the Cubs, but are four games back in their own division having lost three straight to the Padres. Fortunately for them, they did plenty of winning before that and have a 12-8 record in June. Let’s spoil it.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Thursday, June 24th at 9:10 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score
•   Friday, June 25th at 9:10 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Saturday, June 26th at 6:15 CT on FOX, 670 The Score
•   Sunday, June 27th at 6:08 CT on ESPN, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Zach Davies (R) v. Walker Buehler (R)
Game 2: Jake Arrieta (R) v. Tony Gonsolin (R)
Game 3: Alec Mills (R) v. Julio Urias (R)
Game 4: Adbert Alzolay (R) v. Clayton Kershaw (L)

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Willson Contreras
•   1B – Anthony Rizzo
•   2B – Sergio Alcantara
•   3B – Kris Bryant/Patrick Wisdom
•   SS – Javy Báez
•   LF – Joc Pederson
•   CF – Ian Happ/Kris Bryant
•   RF – Jason Heyward/Kris Bryant

Unavailable: Justin Steele, Matt Duffy, Nico Hoerner, David Bote, Trevor Williams, Dillon Maples, Rowan Wick, Jonathan Holder, Austin Romine, P.J. Higgins

Los Angeles Dodgers

•   C – Will Smith
•   1B – Max Muncy
•   2B – Chris Taylor
•   3B – Justin Turner
•   SS – Gavin Lux
•   LF – AJ Pollock
•   CF – Cody Bellinger
•   RF – Mookie Betts*

*Had the stomach flu this week. He’s expected to play but he was taken out of the game on Tuesday and missed the game entirely on Wednesday.

Unavailable: Corey Seager, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Tommy Kahnle, Caleb Ferguson, Corey Knebel, Scott Alexander, Edwin Rios, Dustin May

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: +24 (10th)
Dodgers: +96 (3rd)

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.34 (16th)
Dodgers: 5.14 (2nd)

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 4.01 (11th)
Dodgers: 3.84 (6th)

Keep An Eye Out For …

Kris Bryant’s comeback. Bryant has been in a bit of a prolonged slump, as we’ve discussed, but he walked and hit a homer on Tuesday and reached the warning track the opposite way with one of his other PAs. And combined with the stuff Sahadev Sharma was hearing/investigating, I’m hoping we’re in for another hot streak:

Alec Mills has been good. I have been impressed with Alec Mills two fill-in starts against the Mets and Marlins. His last time out, he allowed no earned runs on 6 hits and no walks over 5.0 innings. And in his first start, while he lasted just 4.1 innings and allowed 3 earned runs, he was actually much better than that (there was some flukey BABIP runs and another run scored after he left). His velocity has been good, his stuff had life, I’ve just plainly been impressed. He still struggles – MIGHTILY – against lefties, and so the Dodgers will be a tough matchup (Muncy, Lux, Bellinger (Seager is out)), but if he can deliver another 4-5 innings while keeping the Cubs in the game, he’ll have more than done his job.

A Tale of Two Clayton Kershaws. 

– First 8 Starts: 2.62 ERA, 2.51 FIP (44.2 IP)
– Last 8 Starts: 4.17 ERA, 3.36 FIP (49.2 IP)

When you dig into the numbers, you’ll find that he’s still been pretty good, even as the results have stalled out, but he has allowed some more hard contact in the air lately and that seems to be making all the difference. Let’s hope the Cubs get version 2.0, because while still tough, he’s certainly a more beatable foe.

Justin Turner is still good. For the season, Turner is slashing .283/.379/.474 (141 wRC+), with 12 homers, a 12.6% walk rate, and an 18.1% strikeout rate. How happy are the Dodgers for coming to terms on a deal, eh?


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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami