I don't know why, but for some reason I've always disliked the Dodgers. They've just always seemed kind of overrated to me in general. And boring. Anyway, depending on how you feel the Cubs will either keep their recent mini-tear going against the Dodgers, confirming their excellent BsR record, or they will collapse like the shitty team they are and it will trigger a fire sale. I'd be kind of happy with both. *shrug*. This part of the season just came earlier this year. At least we'll get to see Kershaw and the rejuvenated Billingsley in this series, and miss Cub kryptonite Hiroki Kuroda. This godforsaken heat wave should make this an exciting series.
LAD position players (wOBA, ZiPS RoS wOBA, CHONE defense projection)
- C Russel Martin, RHB (.330, .341, 0.0)
- 1b James Loney, LHB (.338, .352, 0.0)
- 2b Blake DeWitt, LHB (.271, .320, 0.9)
- ss Rafael Furcal, BHB (.369, .332, 2.7)
- 3b Casey Blake, RHB (.354, .330, 5.2)
- lf Manny Ramirez, RHB (.396, .411, -6.1)
- cf Matt Kemp, RHB (.356, .374, 1.0)
- rf Xavier Paul, LHB (.386, .308, -4.4)
Pitchers (FIP, xFIP, ZiPS RoS FIP)
- Clayton Kershaw, LHP (3.56, 4.21, 3.38)
- Chad Billingsley, RHP (3.51, 4.34, 3.41)
- Hiroki Kuroda, RHP (3.49, 3.55, 3.60)
- John Ely, RHP (1.83, 3.25, -)
- Ramon Ortiz, Holy shit, he's still pitching? (5.49, 4.92, 4.46)
- Jonathon Broxton, Holy shit (0.34, 1.43, 1.98)
- LAD Bullpen (4.03, 4.45)
2 things: The Cubs might be hitting the Dodgers at the right time, given their injury woes (Furcal, Ethier, Padilla). Too bad they won't get the chance to take some batting practice off Ramon Ortiz. The other thing that surprised me was how mediocre their total bullpen numbers were despite Broxton's absolutely obscene numbers this year.
Furcal is set to be activated from the DL tomorrow, but I would be surprised if he played in all three games. He was supposed to be activated ~2 weeks ago but his date had to be pushed back, which is never a great sign. Ethier broke one of his fingers a week or so ago and will miss this series. Vincente Padilla is on the DL with nerve irritation in his elbow (never a good sign) and is expected to return sometime in June. Reliever Cory Wade (i.e. Scott Proctor 2.0) is on the 60-day DL following shoulder surgery in spring training. And the mighty Brad Ausmus is also on the 60-day following surgery to remove 15,682 catching innings from his back.
As for the Cubs, Caridad is on the DL with an elbow injury. Ramirez is expected to sit a few games to allow his bruised thumb to heal and work on his timing with Jaramillo. Gorz's x-rays were negative on the hand that was struck by a line drive last week, but the off-day today means it's not a big deal - they'll probably just move everyone up a day before they decide where to slot in Z.
Players to watch
Starlin Castro owns this spot until any of Andrew Cashner, Jay Jackson, Brett Jackson, or Josh Vitters get a call-up. For the Dodgers, it's Broxton. He's putting up cartoon numbers, and the projections agree that they're no joke. Wasn't he rumored to be part of one of the many Rich Hill deals floating around a few years ago?
Tuesday Clayton Kershaw, LHP (3.56, 4.21, 3.38) vs Ryan Dempster, RHP (4.08, 3.88, 3.78), 7:05 PM CT
Kershaw and Billingsley are both good pitchers, but as you can see they have had a bit of luck this year on HRs. Kershaw has only had one horrendous outing all season - he was touched up for 7 runs in only 1.1 innings by the Brewers at the beginning of May. He's posting an ungodly 10+ K/9, but his control (never his strong suit) has been especially terrible this season, as he has walked 5.26 batters per 9 innings, though it's been a bit more under control in his last few starts. All those walks and the inevitable HR regression (he's a slight FB pitcher) is not a good combination. Speaking of regression, Demp has pitched well this year but has posted a .252 BABIP. His numbers are due for a rise as well.
Wednesday Chad Billingsley, RHP (3.51, 4.34, 3.41) vs Tom Gorzelanny, LHP (2.78, 3.57, 3.89), 7:05 PM CT
I guess you should ignore what I said above about moving everyone up, since Gorz is penciled in as the Wed starter on Cubs.com. That injury was on his pitching hand so hopefully it doesn't mess with his stuff. *insert yet more praise for the theft of Gorz from PIT for two guys who had torn labrums this year*. Billingsley's numbers look a lot better than Kershaw's - he still strikes out a ton of guys but has much 'better' (relatively speaking) control. He's also more of a groundball guy so he's not quite as burned by the HR ball either, though he has had some luck there as well.
Thursday John Ely, RHP (1.83, 3.25, -) vs Ted Lilly, LHP (4.53, 4.83, 4.04), 1:20 PM CT
At least Lilly is pitching on the coolest day of the series. Still though, it could be hot, humid, and raining baseballs on Waveland Ave. At least his control seems to have improved. Ely came out of nowhere (he doesn't even have a projection) and has pitched like Lou Pineilla's wet dream in his MLB debut - it took him 90 batters to issue his first career walk. He was a 2007 draftee by the White Sox out of college, and was one of their top prospects when he came to the Dodgers in the Juan Pierre trade. That was some great work by Colletti.