With inclement weather postponing the game from yesterday morning, the Dodgers (16-7) and the Cubs (9-15) will now play a doubleheader, the first game at 10:05 AM featuring Clayton Kershaw and Drew Smyly, with the second game at 4:40 PM with Tyler Anderson against Daniel Norris. It’s an early game, and barring any other weather issues this should be the earliest game for the team the entire year.
As of first pitch, the Dodgers are tied with the Padres (18-9) for first place in the NL West, while the Cubs are in fourth place in the NL Central. This is the beginning of a tough stretch for the team, as they’re now scheduled to play 31 games over the next 30 calendar days. With a 106-56 record in 2021, it’s hard to lose many season series, but their 3-4 record against Chicago was one of three losing records they had last season.
|CF||Bellinger (L)||3B||Villar (S)|
|P||Kershaw (L)||P||Smyly (L)|
A quick matchup of offense for this three game series shows the Dodgers are eighth in baseball with a 110 wRC+, while the Cubs are sixteenth at 103. As has been the theme at times over the last handful of years for the team, they’re below average against left-handed pitching, ranking 19th in wRC+ at 94, compared to their fifth ranked 117 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Luckily, Smyly will be the only lefty starter they face, with Norris expected to start later tonight, and Marcus Stroman scheduled for tomorrow. Against the left-handed Kershaw, every Cubs’ batter this morning will be batting from the right side. The Dodgers will run out a very familiar lineup to what they usually do, with Austin Barnes catching Kershaw. Mookie Betts has been warming up, with a 150 wRC+ and slash line of .269/.383/.463 over his last 18 games, with ten strikeouts and twelve walks. Offensively the Cubs are led by Ian Happ (143 wRC+), Seiya Suzuki (137 wRC+), and Patrick Wisdom (136 wRC+).
Here’s how Kershaw and Smyly matchup.
Last time out, Kershaw allowed one run on four hits and two walks while striking out seven over six innings. Dustin Garneau was the victim of a historic strikeout record for Kershaw, as the latter tied Hall of Famer Don Sutton for the most strikeouts in Dodgers history. The following inning, Kershaw struck out Tigers’ top prospect Spencer Torkelson for strikeout number 2,697, officially passing Sutton on the all-time list. Overall he’s been excellent this year, with a 2.35 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, and thirty strikeouts to just two walks thus far. Last season in Chicago, Kershaw had the worst start I can remember seeing from him, allowing four runs on four hits and two walks in just one inning. By game score, his start last year was his worst since 2017 against the Cubs where he allowed four runs on eleven hits and three home runs in four innings. In stadiums where he’s made more than one start, his 4.74 ERA at Wrigley Field is his worst ERA at any stadium. Sure, four runs in one inning last year skews that stat, but on the broadcast the other day, him and Orel Hershiser both talked about how they disliked pitching at Wrigley Field.
The left-handed Smyly last pitched on 4/28, allowing two runs on five hits across 4.2 innings, with four strikeouts and one walk. He allowed two home runs, and has now allowed six earned runs over his last two starts, after allowing no runs in his first two. All in all, that puts him in solid standing with a 2.79 ERA and 1.09 WHIP across his first four starts. Smyly isn’t a huge strikeout guy, with just 13 so far, but he’s deceptive and generates weak contact. It’s an early game in Chicago, the team will have to focus up and take advantage of games where they play weaker teams such as the Cubs.
Robbie Erlin is the additional player available for the Dodgers as per the roster rules of a doubleheader.
All good options, with Ryan Pepiot being the most exciting.
First pitch is at 10:05 AM PDT on SNLA and MLB Network.