The Dodgers’ streak of consecutive series victories has finally come to an end, a streak which lasted over two months. Their lead in the NL West still stands at 9.5, but it is the NL’s best record that’s still within reach.
The Cubs now visit Dodger Stadium for a three game series, but will have to face the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Ricky Nolasco this week. The Dodgers and Cubs met at the beginning of the month at Wrigley Field and the Dodgers swept the four game series in decisive fashion.
After the series with the Cubs, the Dodgers will play just one team outside the NL West and beating up on weak teams is a necessity at this point. Along with the Cardinals and Pirates, the Dodgers are two games behind the Braves for best record in the National League as they look to secure home field advantage for the playoffs.
With a 55-75 record, the Cubs are not in contention this season, but they can try and ruin the Dodger’s hopes of playing spoiler at Dodger Stadium.
Here are the keys to the series:
The Dodgers only scored five runs and had 11 hits in their series against the Red Sox and that’s simply not going to cut it. If the Dodgers want to make a postseason run, they must do well against a good pitching staff. They’re simply too talented offensively to produce such low numbers, but this series will be a great opportunity for the lineup to get some quality at bats. Look for Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig to set the tone for the Dodgers.
2. Great Outings By Starters
Very few teams, if any, can throw out a one-two punch of Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw to start a series and even Cubs manager Dale Sveum, is not looking forward to facing the dynamic duo. If they can just do what they have been doing as of late, the Dodgers will be victorious.
In their last 45.2 innings combined, Greinke and Kershaw have allowed two runs combined and don’t forget about Ricky Nolasco, who threw eight shutout innings Friday night.
3. Contain Junior Lake and Nate Schierholtz
Although the Cubs were swept by the Dodgers in their last series, they did have some bright spots. One of them was Junior Lake as the 23-year-old outfielder had a great series against the Dodgers and has been hot as of late. He is batting .333 in his last seven games, but in four games against the Dodgers, Lake hit .412 with two home runs.
Nate Schierholtz is another bat to look out for, he has hit three home runs with 9 RBIs in his last six games he has played. If the Dodgers can contain both of these guys, they’ll be in great shape.
The Dodgers were brought back to reality over the weekend by the Red Sox, but should be able to sweep the Cubs at home. Not to mention Greinke and Kershaw will be on the mound and given their recent domination, it is tough to envision the Dodgers losing a game this series.
In case you missed it, be sure to find out more about Vin Scully returning next season!