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Dodgers face tough test in Lester in opener with Cubs

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers face the Cubs in a battle of division favorites on Monday night at Wrigley Field, which in the opener specifically means trying to solve Jon Lester, which is easier said than done.

Lester faced the Dodgers four times in 2016, including the playoffs, and allowed three total runs in 28 innings.

That included no stolen base attempts in any of the four games, which is a bit odd since one of the indelible images from the 2016 NLCS was Kiké Hernandez dancing off first base with roughly a 75-foot lead*

*lead may be exaggerated

Since the start of the 2015 season, no pitcher has allowed more stolen bases than Lester, who has permitted 74 steals in 98 attempts (75.5%) in 65 starts during that span. That includes two steals in two attempts in his one start this season. Lester simply doesn’t throw to first.

For the Dodgers to take advantage though, they have to reach base first, something they did just 20 times in those four starts against Lester last season. But if they do get on, forget the dancing on the bases this time. Just go.

Runs at a premium

After a four-game series in each of their last four regular season visits to Wrigley Field, the Dodgers are in Chicago this time for four days, but only three games.

In the last two years, the Dodgers have had trouble scoring at Wrigley Field, thanks in large part to the Cubs having both a really good pitching staff and a very good defense during that span.

The Dodgers scored 11 runs in their four-game series in Chicago in 2015, but also allowed only seven in a series split. Last year, the Dodgers scored only eight runs, and allowed 11 in losing three of four games.

In the NLCS, the Dodgers scored five runs in three road games, giving them 24 runs in their last 11 games at Wrigley Field, 2.18 per game.

Notes

Alex Wood starts for the Dodgers. His last start of 2016 was on Memorial Day at Wrigley Field, allowing two runs in five innings, with seven strikeouts in a loss.

The Dodgers are 400-407-7 all-time at Wrigley Field, which opened in 1914.

There is a 55-70% chance of rain in Chicago in the hours leading up to game time, then a 30% chance of rain during the game.

Game info

Time: 5:05 p.m. PT

TV: ESPN