Dodgers @ Cubs May 30, 2016: Memorial Day baseball at Wrigley

Dodgers
Cubs
2:05 p.m. PT
Chicago
2B
Utley
RF
Zobrist
SS
Seager
CF
Heyward
3B
Turner
3B
Bryant
1B
Gonzalez
1B
Rizzo
CF
Pederson
LF
Soler
C
Grandal
SS
Russell
RF
Puig
2B
Baez
LF
Crawford
C
Ross
P
Wood (L)
P
Hammel (R)

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the 2016 Cubs are good. Actually, they’re better than good — at 34-14,  they have the best record in baseball.

Everything is working for them. Their starting rotation has the lowest ERA in either league (2.49), and their bullpen ERA (3.05) ranks behind only Washington in the National League.

The Cubs’ team offensive WAR is 14.5 (according to Fangraphs), which, yes, is the best in baseball. Veterans like Ben Zobrist and Dexter Fowler are having career years, and youngsters like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are living up to their own hype.

In case it wasn’t clear by now, I’ll reiterate: the Cubs are really, really good, and the Dodgers are about to play four games against them in Chicago, where the Cubs have lost just six games in the first two months of the season.

Alex Wood is the first Dodger starter to get to contend with all of that (although he won’t have to face “Sex” Fowler). Dodger fans are well aware of the disparity between Wood’s numbers at home and Wood’s numbers on the road, but to summarize, he has a 1.37 home ERA and a 6.84 away ERA. Wood’s peripherals between home and road aren’t actually that different (3.02 xFIP at home vs. 3.45 xFIP on the road), which suggests that things ought to even out for him at some point. An afternoon game at Wrigley Field might not be the ideal setting for that kind of turnaround, though.

Wood has pitched at Wrigley twice in his career — one relief appearance in 2013, and one start in 2014 — but that probably won’t tell us too much about what to expect from him today. What’s slightly more relevant is that Wood was originally slated to pitch Friday against the Mets, but left triceps soreness prompted the Dodgers to push back his spot in the rotation to give him a few extra days of rest. (That wound up being the day Julio Urias made his MLB debut instead.) We’ll see if Wood is possibly still feeling the effects of that injury.

The Cubs will send Jason Hammel to the mound. The 33-year-old righty has a 2.17 ERA (3.37 FIP) so far this season, and the Cubs are 7-2 in his starts. Hammel has been relying heavily on his slider, throwing it 35% of the time, according to Brooks Baseball. It appears to be his most effective pitch, resulting in a mere .225 SLG against so far. Hammel also frequently throws a four-seam fastball and a sinker, both of which average about 93 MPH.

It’s worth noting that Hammel gets much better results against right-handed batters than he does against lefties. Righties are slashing .184/.229/.295 against him; left-handed batters are faring a bit better, at .259/.392/.392. He’ll face a mostly left-handed lineup today, save for Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig.

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 Sarah Wexler

Sarah Wexler
Sarah Wexler is a native Angeleno and longtime Dodger fan. She began blogging about baseball in 2012 on her Tumblr, New Grass On The Field, where she covered an array of topics but especially enjoyed exploring baseball history. She is now a reporter/producer for MLB.com. She earned her master's degree in Sports Management from Cal State Long Beach. She graduated from New York University in 2014 with a bachelor's in History and a minor in American Studies. She's an avid Springsteen fan, which is a big boost to her baseball writer cred.