Network Notebook: Cubs/Dodgers Series Preview
DODGERS TAKE 2 OF 3 FROM CARDS, NOW MUST BATTLE THE CUBS
Even though both the defending World Champion Chicago Cubs and resource-rich Los Angeles Dodgers have gotten off to relatively slow starts in 2017 compared to expectations...you know that this weekend's three-game series matching the two will feature playoff caliber baseball. These teams met in the playoffs last year. Both are expected to shake off early divisional threats through the summer to line up again in October.
And, great news for baseball fans, we will have marquee names on the mound. This isn't one of those three-game sets where Cy Young candidates are spectators just like the rest of us because it misses their spot in the rotation. It's going to FEEL like a playoff series, particularly in the finale when Jon Lester faces Clayton Kershaw.
Let's run through JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats so we can pick some BIG, JUICY WINNERS!
Chicago Cubs: +22 runs, while playing 25 home games and 21 road games
Los Angeles: +64 runs, while playing 26 home games and 22 road games
Much more impressive run differential for the Dodgers. Both teams have played four more home games than road games, so that cancels out. Plus, the Cubs have played a lot of home games with the wind blowing out, which gave them several more chances to run up the score with their offensive stars. It's the Dodgers that are impressing more despite not enjoying that perk. Right now, the Dodgers are the better team.
Chicago Cubs: 5.0 runs-per-game, .330 on-base, .423 slugging
Los Angeles: 5.0 runs-per-game, .340 on-base, .426 slugging
Very close here in terms of the raw stats. But, you have to respect those "slight" edges for the Dodgers in on-base percentage and slugging because they didn't get to run up their stats in windy Wrigley. Stick both offenses in neutral environments...and the Dodgers are a bit more likely to impress.
Arrieta: 4.80 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 9.8 K's per 9 innings
Wood: 1.88 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 10.9 K's per 9 innings
If you rely solely on stats, then this is going to be a mismatch. Arrieta has pitched well below his past form so far this season. You're going to beat the Dodgers with a 1.40 WHIP?! Wood has looked outstanding. And, scouting reports are in line with the stats. Arrieta has supposedly lost velocity and confidence, while Wood has added velocity and swagger. The catch here is that both are expected to gradually work their way back to career norms. If that happens tonight, Arrieta offers line value. If not....then Wood might be a steal.
Lackey: 4.82 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 9.5 K's per 9 innings
McCarthy: 3.76 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.8 K's per 9 innings
McCarthy gets the nod here as well. Though, Lackey's superior K-rate deserves respect. In this ballpark in particular, strikeout pitchers can impose their will on hitters in a way that trumps full season stats. Both pitchers could play big roles in October...so this will be an interesting test for both. Like Arrieta, Lackey's numbers could be foreshadowing trouble vs. an elite offense.
Lester: 3.19 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 9.3 K's per 9 innings
Kershaw: 2.01 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 9.0 K's per 9 innings
This is the game everyone wants to see. Too bad it's not on ESPN! Maybe it will be on the networks come October with the NL pennant on the line. Clayton Kershaw is still his dominant self...though he's trying to back off a bit to pace himself for the full season. Lester is reliable and effective, and those stats only seem "mortal" because they're lined up against Kershaw's. Might be a spot to look Under because it's a park pitcher's love...and both teams play in other cities Monday.
JIM HURLEY will definitely be watching this series very closely. Will the Cubs continue to be a fade until they start playing to their very high Las Vegas pricing? Is either team about to get red hot and run off a 20-win month in a way that would ignite a profit? Who's best suited to win the BIG games down the stretch during the pennant race?
The man with the answers is the man who will help you GET THE MONEY!
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Speaking of the NBA Finals, we'll run our preview for you next week. Don't make a move until you hear what Jim Hurley has to say! In the meantime, let's power up for baseball. Hook up with PROVEN WINNER JIM HURLEY!
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