Monday’s rainout at Wrigley Field in Chicago created a scenario for the Dodgers such that each of their next three series are surrounded by off days:
- May 3: rainout
- May 4-5: 3 games at Cubs
- May 6: off day
- May 7-9: 3 games at Angels
- May 10: off day
- May 11-12: 2 games vs. Mariners
- May 13: off day
Dodgers-Cubs Game 1 lineups
For a team with an overly taxed bullpen and a rotation missing a starter, it’s as favorable a stretch as possible, at least from a scheduling standpoint. Coupled with Mike Kickham absorbing the only two relief innings on Sunday before getting designated for assignment, the Dodgers enter Tuesday with at least nine relievers, all with at least two days rest, and that’s before replacing Kickham on the active roster.
Dave Roberts on Monday mentioned left-handed pitcher James Pazos as one who would be called up, though that move wasn’t yet made as of Thursday morning. The Dodgers instead opted to call up Keibert Ruiz to take Kickham’s spot, giving them 13 position players and a full bench, something Roberts over the weekend said was coming soon.
“With Keibert, it’s more of having another left-handed/right-handed batter off the bench,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers and Cubs also get to add a 27th player because of the doubleheader, which eases the roster burden for both teams, though that hasn’t been announced yet. Because the doubleheader is the result of a postponed game within the same series, the teams get the extra player for only one of the two games. The Dodgers and Cubs are both opting for an extra player in the second game of the doubleheader, to be determined after usage in the first game.
Roberts said Tuesday that Pazos isn’t under consideration to be added to the roster today.
This is the seventh career start for Clayton Kershaw at Wrigley Field, but his first since the pennant-clinching Game 5 of the 2017 NLCS. He’s split the previous six starts, with a 2.75 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 36 innings.
Joc Pederson is back for the Cubs, activated off the injured list on Monday after missing 12 games with left wrist tendinitis. It’s been a rough start for Pederson in Chicago, just 7-for-51 (.137/.262/.235) with one home run, and a 32.8-percent strikeout rate that would be the worst of his career if it lasts. In the last four seasons with the Dodgers, Pederson’s strikeout rate was 21 percent, for instance.
“His personality, his makeup, he shows up, he’s the same guy all the time. Always laughing and smiling, pretty lighthearted. Just a good guy to have around and keep everybody loose,” said Justin Turner, was with the Dodgers since Pederson’s first call up in 2014. “No one enjoys hitting a homer more than Joc.”
Before getting placed on the injured list, Pederson started 15 of 16 games for the Cubs, including two of three games against left-handed starting pitchers, keeping with David Ross’ pledge to him during the free agent courting process.
“My entire life, I’ve wanted to be seen as the kind of player who just gets punched into the lineup card, every day, rightie or leftie, no questions asked,” Pederson wrote in The Players’ Tribune in February. “The kind of player who gets left in for the whole game, regardless of what matchups the other team is trying to exploit.”
Pederson from 2018-20 started just nine total games against a left-handed pitcher for instance. He’s 1-for-13 with five strikeouts against southpaws this season, and in his career has hit .187/.262/.302 against left-handers, a 56 wRC+ compared to his destructive career 127 wRC+ against righties. Though he isn’t starting in the opener of the doubleheader against Kershaw, with the Cubs opting for seven right-handed bats and switch-hitter Ildemaro Vargas along with lefty Anthony Rizzo for the first game.
Teams: Dodgers at Cubs
Location: Wrigley Field
Game 1: 11:20 a.m. PT
Game 2: 4:40 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA (both games), MLB Network (Game 1, out of market)