Dodgers-Cubs Series Preview

DODGERS, CUBS BEGIN FOUR-GAME SHOWCASE SERIES MONDAY NIGHT AT WRIGLEY FIELD

It's great that the Chicago Cubs are a relevant team again. Major League Baseball is always more fun when the Cubs matter...even though that's way too rare an occurrence! You've probably noticed that the Cubs are well-positioned to contend for a Wildcard this season. But, you may NOT be aware heading into their four-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers...that...

*If the Cubs and Dodgers were in the same division, the Cubs would be right on LA's heels! The Cubs are way behind super-hot St. Louis in the NL Central. They're not way behind the Dodgers in overall league standings.

*If the Cubs and Dodgers had played similar road/home splits, the Cubs might be widely perceived as the superior team!!!!

Thru Sunday:
The Dodgers have played 40 home games and 30 road games
The Cubs have played 31 home games and 36 road games

That's no small matter given the big discrepancy. Yes, the betting markets still expect the Dodgers to ultimately run away with their division. They're not playing at a World Championship level just yet. A schedule quirk may be hiding a few flaws.

That's the interesting backdrop to the four-game series between these two teams that begins Monday night at Wrigley Field. The Dodgers will start festivities with their two aces. Chicago isn't quite as fortunate with their current rotation. Let's see what JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats have to say about the matchup...

OFFENSE
LA Dodgers: 4.23 runs per game, .333 on-base, .433 slugging
Chicago Cubs: 4.18 runs per game, .320 on-base, .392 slugging

Edge to the Dodgers because they have to play their home games in a pitcher's park...and they've played a lot of home games so far! The advantages in on-base and slugging are more impressive than the per-game differential...suggesting that full-game differential will eventually expand.

MONDAY'S PITCHERS
Clayton Kershaw: 3.29 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 11.8 K-Rate 6.6 IP-per-Start
Tsuyoshi Wada: 3.68 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 9.2 K-Rate 4.9 IP-per-Start

Kershaw had four straight quality starts before running into the hot Rangers. NL pitchers sometimes forget that the AL is superior! The biggest surprise is that Kershaw is up around 3.29 in a season where truly dominant pitchers are doing better than that. Wada has been struggling with inning counts. But, he did go 7 strong vs. Cleveland last outing. Edge to Kershaw in terms of dynamic skill sets. Handicappers have to determine if the market is overrating him a touch this season.

TUESDAY'S PITCHERS
Zack Greinke: 1.81 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 7.9 K-Rate 6.7 IP-per-Start
Jason Hammel: 2.89 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 9.2 K-Rate 6.5 IP-per-Start

Greinke has been on fire for weeks outside of one shaky outing at altitude in Colorado. That's where Kershaw's ERA is supposed to be! Very solid numbers for Hammel, though he's slowed down in his last two starts. Edge to Greinke...and it might be a BIG edge if Hammel's dealing with any issues or otherwise regressing to his career mean.

WEDNESDAY'S PITCHERS
Mike Bolsinger: 2.87 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.3 K-Rate 5.9 IP-per-Start
Kyle Hendricks: 3.21 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 7.3 K-Rate 5.7 IP-per-Start

Nice matchup of young talent in a game that will be nationally televised by ESPN2 Wednesday night. Very similar performances thus far, with Bolsinger possibly showing a stat edge because of his home park rather than any skill set advantage. Bullpens may loom very large since neither guy is averaging six full innings. 

THURSDAY'S PITCHERS
Carlos Frias: 4.68 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 5.1 K-Rate 5.7 IP-per-Start
Jon Lester: 3.80 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 8.5 K-Rate 6.1 IP-per-Start

Frias has allowed a total of 10 earned runs combined over his last two starts, and is very much a borderline rotation pitcher right now considering he's in the inferior league pitching his home games in a pitcher's park. Eight quality starts in the last 10 for Lester, but those overall numbers sure aren't very impressive in another "Year of the Pitcher." The first spot where an Over might make sense, though it's an afternoon start and a get-away day for both teams. Look Over if the wind is blowing out at least. Advantage to Lester because Frias will likely struggle as a road pitcher given those numbers.

JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one big play in this high profile series. You can purchase each night's baseball BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours. Be sure to check on early-bird football when you call!

Speaking of football, a few more days of baseball previews will into our first college football articles of the summer this week. Here's what's on tap...

Tuesday: MLB Series Preview....San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants
Wednesday MLB Big Game Preview...either Atlanta/Washington or Kansas City/Seattle
Thursday: MLB Series Preview...New York Yankees at Houston Astros
Friday: MLB Series Preview...Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals
Saturday: College Football...Mountain West "East" Preview
Sunday: College Football...Mountain West "West" Preview

Wow...big week for the Cubs! Seven straight days with either the Dodgers or the Cardinals. If they can just tread water, they'll be in good shape to hang around in playoff discussions. See you again tomorrow for a closer look at the NL West. Make sure you're with us every day for helpful handicapping information...then link up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!

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