The Dodgers are in Chicago to battle the Cubs beginning Monday night, the third straight season they have a scheduled four-game series at Wrigley Field.
In 2013 the Dodgers swept the Cubs in four games, part of their ridiculous 42-8 stretch and part of their franchise-record 15-game road winning streak. In 2014, the Dodgers won three of four games in Chicago, and Joc Pederson was reduced to coffee-fetching duty.
This season, Pederson has been fetching nearly every ball hit in his general direction, including some he had no business catching. He has also been hitting this season, at a .251/.392/.541 clip entering Monday.
Pederson has 18 home runs on the season, already tying Mike Piazza's rookie Dodgers record for most home runs before the All-Star break. Pederson is tied for seventh in the majors in home runs.
If Pederson hits at least two home runs in the next 11 games, he will have the 18th season by a Dodger with at least 20 home runs in the team's first 81 games, and the first since Matt Kemp hit 22 home runs in the team's first 81 games in 2011.
Pederson also has 49 walks this season, fifth in the majors. With just one more walk he would have the 41st season by a Dodger with at least 50 walks in the first 81 games.
Against left-handed pitchers this season, Pederson is hitting .283/.377/.500 with three home runs and seven walks (and 20 strikeouts) in 53 plate appearances. He will face southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada, who pitched seven scoreless innings last Wednesday against Cleveland and, with some prompting from manager Joe Maddon, called himself a badass.
The Dodgers' own badass on the mound, Clayton Kershaw, is looking to make some history of his own. Kershaw enters Monday with double-digit strikeouts in three straight starts, looking for four straight such starts for the first time in his career.
The Dodgers franchise record of consecutive starts of 10 or more strikeouts is four, reached only by Hideo Nomo (1995) and Sandy Koufax (five times).
Kershaw needs 12 strikeouts on Monday to match the best four-start strikeout stretch of his career, 44 strikeouts from June 18 to July 4, 2014.
Kershaw begins Monday with 122 strikeouts on the season, just one behind Max Scherzer of the Nationals for the major league lead.
The Cubs as a team are second in MLB in both strikeouts (637) and strikeout rate (24.6 percent) while batting.
Time: 5:05 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA