Dodgers @ Cubs June 18, 2018: Maeda in the windy city

Photo: Sarah Wexler

The Dodgers (37-33) dropped the final game of their homestand against the Giants on Sunday, snapping their five-game winning streak. Now they will clash with the Cubs (40-28) for the first time since defeating them in the NLCS last year. They’ll play Chicago seven times in the next two weeks.

Dodgers
Cubs
5:05 PM
Chicago
CF
Pederson
3B
Bryant
2B
Muncy
RF
Heyward
3B
Turner
2B
Zobrist
C Grandal
1B
Rizzo
LF
Kemp
CF
Happ
1B
Bellinger
LF
Schwarber
SS
Taylor SS Russell
RF
Puig
C
Gimenez
P
Maeda (R)
P
Chatwood (R)

Kenta Maeda (4-4, 3.61 ERA, 3.01 FIP) makes his second start since returning from the DL with a hip strain. He’s never faced the Cubs in the regular season, but he did pitch out of the bullpen against the Cubs in the NLCS. He made three one-inning appearances in the series and picked up a win in Game 1.

Last time out against the Rangers (the Matt Kemp/Robinson Chirinos squabble game), Maeda allowed two runs on five hits with a strikeout and three walks on 76 pitches through five innings. His command was a little shaky, but he looked healthy. The Dodgers really need Maeda to continue his strong first half and go deeper into games while the remaining guys not named Ross Stripling start getting healthy.

Left-handed batters are hitting Maeda to a tune of .292 this year. If he can get through the first three innings (5.17 ERA), he usually settles down nicely for innings 4-6 (2.01 ERA).

The White Sox are a 1/2 game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. Like the Dodgers, who just missed out on a sweep of the Giants, the Cubs missed out on a sweep of the Cardinals Sunday. Javier Baez was hit in the elbow with a pitch, but he appears to be okay. The Cubbies were shutout 5-0 by the Red Birds, but they’ve won 13 of their last 20 games.

The Dodgers and Cubs could potentially be pitted against each other in another National League postseason matchup, and the next two weeks of play could give us a preview of what is to come if both teams continue playing well. The rematch between the two clubs begins at Wrigley Field with a three-game set, but the Dodgers don’t have Clayton Kershaw or Rich Hill this time around. Yu Darvish is also on the disabled list for the Cubs.

The Cubs still do have former Dodger Brandon Morrow in their bullpen. Morrow signed a two-year $21 million deal in the offseason, and he’s pitched well in the windy city. He has a 1.59 ERA with 25 strikeouts and nine walks in 22 1/2 innings. He’s only allowed one home run this year and has 16 saves. Collectively, the Cubs’ bullpen is one of the best in baseball. They have the second-best ERA in the NL behind Arizona (3.72) and opposing hitters are only batting .207 against them, lowest in the NL.

It would be best for the Dodgers to get to Tyler Chatwood (3-5, 4.12 ERA, 4.75 FIP) early. Chatwood is walking a lot of guys. He leads the majors with 58 free passes. Cody Bellinger leads the Dodgers with 32 walks in case you wondered. Chatwood lost his last start to the Brewers. He allowed four runs on five hits with only two walks and five strikeouts in five innings.

Overall against the Dodgers, the right-hander is 5-9 with a 4.07 ERA in 15 games with 39 walks in 77 1/3 innings. Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal have all had success against Chatwood. Kemp has six hits including a home run against him, and Grandal is hitting .545 with a double, triple and homer against him. Pederson has a couple of doubles and a home run against him as well. Max Muncy, starting at second base for the second time, has never faced Chatwood.

——

Kershaw pitched a simulated game at Wrigley this afternoon, and it went well.

Kersh may be back sooner rather than later.

Paint the ivy blue, boys.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler
Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.