The Cubs have feasted on a couple of mediocre to bad teams over the past week or so, but now get to face arguably the best team in the NL. They just took three of four in Milwaukee, knocking around Josh Hader for not one but two lead-changing home runs.
I’m switching to 2019 numbers now, though small sample sizes abound. Also I’m too lazy to look up which 2018 team leaders are actually still with the teams, though at least this is a little easier with the Dodgers than it was with the Marlins.
- OBP: Contreras (.465)
- ISO: Contreras (.493)
- HR: Baez / Contreras (6)
- R+RBI: Baez (34)
- wRC+: Contreras (205)
- BSR: Rizzo (1.4)
- SP K/9: Quintana (11.12)
- SP BB/9: Hamels (1.04)
- SP FIP: Hamels (3.17)
- RP FIP: Ryan (13.50)
- RP BB/9: Kintzler (0.96)
- RP FIP: Ryan (2.66)
- WAR: Contreras (1.1)
- OBP: Cody Bellinger (.500)
- ISO: Bellinger (.459)
- HR: Bellinger (11)
- R+RBI: Bellinger (54)
- wRC+: Bellinger (255)
- BSR: Kikè Hernandez (1.1)
- SP K/9: Hyun-Jin Ryu (10.18)
- SP BB/9: Ryu (0.89)
- SP FIP: Walker Buehler (3.09)
- RP K/9: Kenley Jansen (12.34)
- RP BB/9: Dylan Floro (0.00)
- RP FIP: Floro (2.25)
- WAR: Bellinger (2.3)
Offseason moves, injuries, vengeance pacts, etc.
The Dodgers made a few big moves in the offseason. Yasmani Grandal left in Free Agency and they picked up Russell Martin to complement Austin Barnes, who had already crowded out Grandal late last year. They also shipped out Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and Alex Wood to the Reds in what was mostly a salary dump (or a trade of salary dumps). This opened up outfield spots to get Bellinger more PAs, which has worked out so far, I think, and they signed A.J. Pollock.
Martin is on the DL with back inflammation, and Rich Hill has been out since late March due to a MCL strain in his knee. Kershaw missed the first few weeks of the season, and the Cubs manage to dodge him in this series as he pitched on Sunday.
On the Cubs side, Brandon Morrow was shut down yet again after feeling discomfort in his last bullpen session. A few other guys are on their way back, including Jon Lester who is eligible to come off the IL at any point. Tony Barnette and Xavier Cedeno are now on rehab assignments and could rejoin the club soon. Monty is on track to come back soon as well.
Projected K/9, BB/9, ERA listed for each pitcher.
Tuesday: Kenta Maeda, RHP (9.24, 2.84, 3.87) vs Jose Quintana, LHP (8.74, 2.90, 3.72), 7:05 PM CT
Q has put together the best string of starts that we’ve seen from him in a Cubs uniform over the past two games. He’ll have a tougher time shutting down the potent Dodgers offense, but apparently Joe wanted to push a lot of lefties into this series since the Dodgers apparently relatively struggle against them. If nothing else just cooling off Bellinger, whose wOBA is 60 points lower vs LHP, could be reason enough.
Maeda has been kind of a swing guy for the past season or so, and our best memories of him was the Cubs knocking him around in the 2016 NLCS. Though looking back, he wasn’t quite as bad as I remembered. Maeda gave up 4 runs in 7.2 innings over two starts, but it didn’t seem like there was any trust at all for him to go deep into the game.
Wednesday: Walker Buehler, RHP (10.25, 2.94, 3.36) vs Cole Hamels, LHP (8.12, 2.93, 3.72), 7:05 PM CT
I remembered that Buehler was pretty good last year, but holy shit, he was really good. In 23 starts he posted a 2.62 ERA and was solid in the playoffs as well. He might hit a wall this season due to a huge innings bump in 2018 (almost 80 innings more) but his peripherals at least show no sign of him slowing down. He has been knocked around by the Cardinals and Dbacks so far this year but his numbers point towards this being mostly a sequencing issue that should resolve itself.
Thursday: Ross Stripling, RHP (8.77, 2.27, 4.05) vs TBD (Lester?), 1:20 PM CT
Stripling has been another swing guy for the Dodgers and is expected to move back to the pen when Rich Hill gets back. He’s been solid in his five starts so far, and must be relieved to not be facing the Brewers for the third time in a row.
It seems like the stars are aligning for another Lester start here, but I wouldn’t put it past Joe to give Chatwood another shot after the start he put together on Sunday. Selfishly, I’m hoping Lester starts in AZ since I’m going to be at some of the games and would rather not see Chatwood turn back into a pumpkin in person. But no Chatwood start at all would also be ok with me.