Inconsistent Dodgers Ready for Cubs Rematch?

After two embarrassing losses to open their series in Colorado, the Dodgers’ came back today to end their two-game losing streak and to beat a lefty for the first time this season, as they eased by the Rockies 10-6 in a thoroughly entertaining but at some times laughable game, where the tumultuous wind in Coors Field played havoc with almost every batted ball. I remember some amazing games years and years ago in Candlestick Park where the San Francisco wind ruled, and today’s game was the closest thing I recall to those games. One of the Dodgers’ announcers, I think it was Joe Davis, referred to that infamous game where the wind blew a Giants’ pitcher off the mound, and though he did not remember the details, I remember that game well, and it was star relief pitcher Stu Miller who suffered

through that still-remembered event. No player was blown about today, but no one really knew, for much of the game, just where any fly ball might land, or what zig or zag the wind would give any grounder. It was not classic baseball by a longshot, but as I said, a game thoroughly entertaining to the viewer.

So, the Dodgers now take their 4-3 record to Chicago for the Cub’s home opener to start a three-game series that represents a rematch of last year’s National League Championship Series where the Cubs came back from a 2-1 Dodgers’ advantage to win the last three games of the series to advance to the World Series. The Cubs four wins in that series included one against Clayton Kershaw, one against Julio Urias, and two against Joe Blanton. Well, Blanton is long gone, Urias is several weeks away from returning to the Dodgers rotation, and Kershaw, who started yesterday, will miss the series, so in that regard, it’s almost a clean slate. The Dodgers will be starting Alex Wood tomorrow, followed by Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy.

Both Ryu and McCarthy had excellent first starts in their returns from injuries, and Wood gets his start replacing Rich Hill who managed to throw five innings this season before landing on the disabled list for the first of many, many times throughout this season. Wood has thrown two shutout innings in relief, and he needs to continue pitching well to be the long term answer to the likely frequent absences of the $48 Million Hill.

In the three games in Wrigley Field, the Dodgers will be facing two lefties, beginning with Jon Lester tomorrow night, and after facing former Angels’ World Series star John Lackey in between, they get another of their own injury-prone former sometimes starters, lefty Brett Anderson, to conclude the series on Wednesday afternoon. Whether or not the Dodgers were successful this offseason in their quest to obtain solid right hand hitting to offset their serious weaknesses against lefty pitching will get a good test against Lester. As so often happened last season, and over many previous seasons, the Dodgers were thoroughly stymied by less than top rate lefty starters this past week in losses to both Clayton Richard and Kyle Freeland. Freeland held them to one run and four hits in his major league debut after journeyman Richard threw eight shutout innings against them in a 4-0 shutout. The team righted the ship today, doing well against the Rockies Tyler Anderson, blasting him for five runs in five innings. But, Lester will likely be a different

story tomorrow. After Kershaw, there are few better lefties in baseball than Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA, 1.02 WHIP last season) and in his last two games against the Dodgers, both in last year’s Championship series, he allowed them two runs over 13 innings, with the Cubs winning both games. During the regular season, he allowed the Dodgers two runs over 22 innings. Can Franklin Gutierrez and Logan Forsythe make a difference over last year? We shall see tomorrow night.

In the series finale, Brett Anderson, 11-11, 4.18 ERA in his time with the Dodgers, will face his former teammates for the first time ever. In 2015, Brett started 31 games for the Dodgers, though even for that season, it is questionable as to whether he actually earned the $12.4 M he was paid in salary and bonuses. In 2016, he appeared in all of four games for the $15.8 M he was paid by LA. His 2017 contract with the Cubs calls for a base of $3.5 M, plus incentives for games pitched that could boost his pay to a total of $10 M.

It’s sort of amazing to think that in the same three-game series, Ryu, McCarthy, Wood and Anderson are all NOT on the disabled list and able to actually pitch.

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