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Series Preview: Dodgers return to Chicago to face Cubs

League Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs - Game Five Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Dodgers and Cubs will play each other seven times over the next 11 days starting Monday at Wrigley Field in a matchup of the last two teams to represent the National League in the World Series. There’s a long way to go until the playoffs are decided but there remains a possibility of the two teams facing each other for a third straight year in the NLCS.

That last sentence would’ve been laughed at a month ago when the Dodgers were 16-26 and had a pile of injuries. But they’ve overcome the many obstacles to win 21 of the last 28 as they head to the Windy City.

The Cubs have also been playing good baseball over the last month or so, limiting opponents to just over three runs per game since May 7 to the tune of a 24-13 record. Chicago owns a 2.97 ERA as a team over that stretch and lead the National League with a 3.19 ERA on the season.

The pitching staff has limited opponents to 64 homers in 68 games, third best in the major leagues despite 34 from the trio of Kyle Hendricks (14), Jon Lester (10) and Jose Quintana (10).

The Cubs lead the National League with 4.96 runs scored per game while the Dodgers are third at 4.77. Although, Los Angeles has scored nearly seven per game over their last 28. The Cubs have been shutout in three of the last five.

Old friends Brandon Morrow (0-0, 1.59) and Yu Darvish (1-3, 4.95) have been on the opposite side of results. Morrow has 16 saves in 17 opportunities and 24 of his 26 appearances have been scoreless. Darvish is currently on the DL with right triceps tendinitis but hasn’t made it out of the fifth inning in five of his eight starts.

Monday, 5:05 p.m. PT (SportsNet LA)

The weakness of the Cubs’ pitching staff has been walks, a trouble spot for Monday’s starter Tyler Chatwood. The right-hander has walked 58 in 63 13 innings, walking four or more in nine of his 13 starts.

Kenta Maeda will make his second start since returning from the disabled list last week. The 27-year-old looked fine as far as the injury to his right hip but he struggled with command, walking three and striking out only one.

Tuesday, 5:05 p.m. PT (SportsNet LA)

Mike Montgomery has pitched well after taking over for Darvish in the rotation. The lefty has allowed only three runs in four starts since joining the rotation May 28 and has a stellar 0.68 WHIP.

Rich Hill will come off the DL for 94th time (rough estimate) since joining the Dodgers after another blister issue. Hill struck out 10 in a rehab with Class-A Rancho last week and says he ready to go.

The lefty was unable to make it through one batter last time he attempted a start, May 19 in Washington. In six starts (five really), Hill has allowed 18 runs in 24 23 innings.

Wednesday, 11:20 p.m. PT (SportsNet LA, MLB Network)

The Dodgers will turn to their ace at the moment, Ross Stripling. The right-hander has dominated opponents in eight starts since joining the rotation May 6, allowing just nine runs (eight earned) while striking out 59 against four walks.

Jon Lester will get the start for Chicago with the Dodgers facing lefties on back-to-back days. They are 17-7 when facing a lefty starter in 2018 but Lester has been stingy of late.

Opponents have been held to one run or less by Lester in six of his past 11 starts and he has allowed just two runs in 20 innings this month.