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Dodgers head to Wrigley Field for weekend set with Cubs

3-game series features two games at 11:20 a.m. Pacific Time

MLB: Game Two-Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers make their annual early season trip to Wrigley Field when they open a three-game series with the Cubs Friday. Though rain is threatening the series opener exactly like a season ago, there is technically still a chance for two morning games for those watching from the west coast.

Dodgers-Cubs Matchup

Stat Dodgers Cubs
Stat Dodgers Cubs
Split 6-5 (away) 4-8 (home)
Run diff. +57 (1st) -3 (17th)
wRC+ 111 (t-7th) 103 (t-14th)
HR 23 (13th) 19 (t-21st)
SB 16 (t-4th) 5 (t-25th)
ERA 2.21 (1st) 4.17 (24th)
FIP 2.88 (1st) 4.28 (27th)
K rate 26.1% (3rd) 23.2% (15th)
BB rate 6.6% (1st) 8.7% (16th)

Friday will be the start of a grueling 31-day stretch for the Dodgers in which they will play 31 games. They start with a Cubs team that might have fans muttering “at least they’re not as bad as the Reds” by season’s end.

Wrigley has proved tough on the Dodgers of late, winning only four of the last 16 games on the North Side, including being swept last season. The last time the Dodgers outright won a series in Wrigley was September 18-21, 2014 when they took three of four.

When the two clubs last met in June of last season, the lineup looked a bit different for the Cubs before they started trading the heart of their lineup. The 2-3-4 combo of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez all play elsewhere and what’s left behind is a team in transition. Right-hander Keegan Thompson is the only one left of the seven relievers who made at least 30 appearances for the Cubs in 2021.

Starting pitching has been abysmal to the tune of 5.16 ERA in 24 games, good for fourth worst in baseball thus far. After signing a three-year deal worth $71 million in the offseason, right-hander Marcus Stroman is off to a slow start, giving up 17 runs (15 earned) in 26.1 innings over five starts. The Dodgers will see Stroman on the mound for Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN.

Dodgers-Cubs Schedule

Day Pitchers Time TV
Day Pitchers Time TV
Fri Anderson-TBD 11:20 AM SNLA
Sat Kershaw-Steele 11:20 AM SNLA
Sun Buehler-Stroman 4:08 PM ESPN

The Dodgers on the other hand have the best pitching in the league to this point and will be sending Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler to the mound on Saturday and Sunday. As for the first game of the series, it will be lefty Tyler Anderson whenever the game actually happens.

Anderson has been solid in his first year with the team, surrendering only five runs in his first four starts. While his last start was the first time going five innings, that hasn’t been an issue given the extra relievers that were on the roster.

Chicago is the first stop of a six-game road swing for the Dodgers, who will head to Pittsburgh Monday for three with the Pirates.

Odds

Dodgers -235 to win Game 1, LA -190 to take Game 2

Hitters to watch

Mookie Betts is 9-for-22 (.409) with two homers over his last six games.

Max Muncy was 2-for-4 with a home run Wednesday. While one game doesn’t break him out of the awful slump to start the season, there is reason to believe he is on the verge.

On the Cubs side, Nick Madrigal is 6-for-18 over his last five games.