Dodgers @ Cubs Sept. 18, 2014: Finally, A Real Pitcher

Dodgers
Cubs
5:10 p.m.
Chicago, Il.
2B
Gordon
LF
Coghlan
CF
Puig
SS
Baez
1B
Gonzalez
3B
Valbuena
RF
Kemp
RF
Soler
SS
Ramirez
CF
Kalish
LF
Van Slyke
1B
Olt
3B
Uribe
2B
Watkins
C
Ellis
C
Baker
P
Greinke (R)
P
Wada (L)

This Cubs team, man. They’re going to finish in fifth place for the fifth year in a row. The last time they were any good, they had guys like Derrek Lee, Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, and Kerry Wood, so yeah, it was a long time ago. But if it seems like just another quietly bad year on the North Side, think again, because this team is fascinating, in regards to the collection of minor league hitting talent they’ve pulled together.

Tonight against Zack Greinke and the Dodgers, you’ll see some of that on display, although you won’t see mainstays Starlin Castro (ankle) or Anthony Rizzo (on an “every other day” plan due to a back issue.) Javier Baez, playing shortstop tonight, swings harder than anyone I’ve ever seen, and when he connects — nine homers in 182 plate appearances — it’ll look like Giancarlo Stanton hit it. But he is also carrying a 42.3% (!!) strikeout rate, which means that a smart pitcher like Greinke should hopefully be able to expose him. Right fielder Jorge Soler has nearly the same raw power, with five homers in just 60 plate appearances.

Those two, plus Rizzo and Castro, plus minor league shortstop Addison Russell, plus surprising pitching star Jake Arrieta, who nearly threw a no-hitter earlier this week, plus consensus top prospect third baseman Kris Bryant and outfielder Albert Almora and catcher Kyle Schwarber, well, they’re not all here yet. But they’re coming. This is going to be a dangerous team, and soon.

For now, though, they’re still a lousy team, and after the Roberto Hernandez / Dan Haren / Carlos Frias hilarity in Colorado, the Dodgers badly need to take advantage of having Grienke and Clayton Kershaw pitching today and tomorrow. Since the Giants don’t play tonight, and the Dodgers have a 2:20pm local start tomorrow, the Dodgers will have had the chance to play two games with their best two pitchers before San Francisco next throws a pitch, tomorrow night in San Diego. It’d be nice if that two game lead was a three game lead by then. It’d be a problem, with their two best — arguably, “only two good” — pitchers going, if it was a one game lead.

Scott Van Slyke, unsurprisingly, gets the call against a lefty. Hanley Ramirez, somewhat surprisingly, returns to the lineup despite a sore right elbow.

ThrowsRelieverSat 10/15Sun 10/16Mon 10/17Tue 10/18Wed 10/19Thur 10/20Fri 10/21
LAvilan--OFF-2421OFF
RBaez34-OFF-2727OFF
RBlanton28-OFF13-19OFF
LDayton3-OFF16-12OFF
RFields--OFF-910OFF
RJansen-18OFF21--OFF
RStripling10-OFF-2018OFF
LWood--OFF-32-OFF

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.