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Simulating the Dodgers’ 2020 season: Game 34 vs. Cubs

Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

This is the 26th installment of an ongoing series, where my dad and I will simulate each game on the Dodgers schedule until real Dodger baseball returns. Catch up on the rest of the series here! Thanks all for the comments and support!

Welcome back! After yet another disappointing outing against the Padres, we open up a three-game series against the 16-19 Cubs, with Julio Urias (2-2, 3.60 ERA) taking the mound in Game 1 against Tyler Chatwood (1-3, 5.34 ERA).

But first, we’re going to take a long look at our lineup and see what changes we should be making to break out of this recent rut.

We did a lot of discussion around it at the beginning of the stream, and we’ll be reverting our regular lineup to something more similar to how we started the season, back when things were going a little more smoothly.

It’s time for the game! Watch it here or scroll below to find out what happened. If you want to be notified when we go live with future simulations and chime in with your live feedback and/or input on managerial decisions, follow me on Twitch!

With a scheduled day off for Justin Turner, we moved things around a little to make sure there weren’t too many lefties stacked in a row (or Chris Taylor batting cleanup). Taylor led off for us, with Mookie Betts hitting clean-up for the first time as a Dodger.

The Cubs took an early lead when Javier Baez (hitting under .200 coming into this game) hit a two-run home run off of Urias in the first. But the Dodgers responded quickly by putting together two-out rally in the bottom first, Cody Bellinger hit a double, Mookie Betts walked, Corey Seager doubled Bellinger home and Joc Pederson (back in the lineup) singled Betts and Seager home to take a 3-2 Dodger lead.

Urias got through the second and third innings without any trouble, but Baez hit another home run against him in the top of the fourth to tie the game 3-3. The Dodgers once again responded quickly with two outs in the next half inning, as Gavin Lux hit his second home run of the year to take the 4-3 lead.

Urias got into a jam in the top of the fifth that almost blew the game wild open. After walking Jason Heyward to start the inning, he struck out both Steven Souza Jr. and Albert Amora Jr. But with two outs, Urias walked both Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, loading the bases for ... Javier Baez, the guy who had already hit two dingers against Urias today. But Urias struck Baez out looking, getting out of the bases loaded jam.

We pulled Urias after six innings of work — he ended the day with three runs given up, three hits allowed, and eight strikeouts against four walks. Caleb Ferguson relieved him in the seventh, which ended on a strike ‘em out/throw ‘em out double play, and Joe Kelly relieved Ferguson in the eighth (that call was made by newly-deputized assistant coach Eric Stephen). Kelly struck out both Bryant and Baez in his best relief performance of the season to-date, keeping the score 4-3 Dodgers.

In the bottom of the eighth, Mookie Betts took to his new temporary cleanup role well. He hit the first pitch from reliever Brad Wieck 406 feet into the left field stands, adding an insurance run to make it 5-3. Even when batting cleanup, though, Betts’ home run was a solo shot — he now has five home runs and nine RBIs this year.

With a 5-3 lead, it was now time to bring in Kenley Jansen to pitch the ninth. Jansen’s had a rocky time of it lately, but settled into a groove early by getting both Kyle Schwarber and Victor Caratini to fly out (the latter on a diving play by Cody Bellinger). But because it wouldn’t be a simulated Kenley Jansen appearance in 2020 without some drama, he walked David Bole, gave up a double to Jason Heyward, and walked Ian Happ to load the bases with two outs. Jansen got out of it, though, striking out Albert Almora Jr. to end the game with a 5-3 Dodger win.

Here’s the box score:

Next time: games 2 and 3 of this series. First up: Ross Stripling (1-1, 3.57 ERA) vs. Kyle Hendricks (1-3, 3.35 ERA), followed by Alex Wood (4-1, 1.86 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (4-2, 3.15 ERA).

See you then!