Cubs @ Dodgers July 10, 2022: Urías and Co. look for 4-game sweep

After a 4-2 win last night, the Dodgers (55-29) have now won ten of their last eleven, six in a row, and are on the verge of a four game sweep of the Chicago Cubs (34-51). With their recent form, the team has extended their lead in the NL West to seven games over the San Diego Padres (49-37). Julio Urias will be on the mound for the Dodgers as they look to end this homestand with a win, proceeded by a day off. The team plays five games on the road next week, three against the Cardinals (45-42), and two against the Angels (38-48), so Urías likely will have one more start before the All-Star break. Drew Smyly will be on the mound for the Cubs, the veteran left-hander returning from the Injured List and making his first start since May 30.

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1:10 PM Los Angeles
CF Morel RF Betts
DH Contreras SS T. Turner
LF Happ (S) 1B Freeman (L)
3B Wisdom C Smith
SS Hoerner 3B J. Turner
C Higgins DH Muncy (L)
RF Velázquez CF Thompson
1B Bote 2B Alberto
2B Simmons LF Lux (L)
P Smyly (L) P Urías (L)

Smyly will be the first left-handed staring pitcher the Dodgers face this series, so it’ll be a good test to see what the offense is capable of. With some decent performances against left-handed pitching as of late, the Dodgers are now up to 13th in wRC+ against them at 108, and 11th in OPS at .730. Will Smith has been particularly hot as of late, with a .298/.357/.553 slash over his last 30 games and 126 plate appearances, good for a 155 wRC+ and .910 OPS, and that’s additionally up to a .964 OPS over his last 18 games. That’s also including a walkoff single two nights ago, and a game tying single last night. Against left-handed pitching, he leads the team with a .923 OPS and 161 wRC+, with Mookie Betts (.921 OPS, 157 wRC+) close behind. Freddie Freeman (.811 OPS, 132 wRC+) and Trea Turner (.817 OPS, 130 wRC+) are also right there.

Meanwhile, Gavin Lux is up to a 126 wRC+ on the year, and quietly on pace for a 4+ WAR season, nearly slashing .300/.370/.420. His batting average and OBP are in the top twenty in all of baseball, and if he were to up his slugging just a bit, he would easily be a household name. Against the left-handed Smyly, Trayce Thompson will start in center field and Hanser Alberto will start at second base.

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Here’s how the two pitchers matchup of 73 starters with at least 80 IP.

Smyly landed on the 15-day injured list due to a right oblique strain over a month ago, but after one rehab start he seems prepared to maintain a regular workload going forward, making his first start since May 30. He may be on a pitch limit coming back from injury, but it seems as if he’d be able to target around 80 pitches so the Dodgers will still have to put up respectable plate appearances. With his tenure on the Cubs, he’s now in his fifth consecutive season with a different team. He’s had a fine season in his first nine starts, coming off a decent year with the Atlanta Braves. He went 3.1 innings against the Dodgers in the 2021 NLCS, allowing two earned runs, but securing the win in Game 4. He was passable last year, with a 4.48 ERA and 5.11 FIP for Atlanta, but with an 11-4 record over 126.2 innings pitched. In the shortened 2020 season with the Giants, Smyly had a crazy albeit brief season, with a 2.01 FIP and 42 strikeouts in 26.1 innings. His 14.4 strikeouts per nine innings that year is double his of this year, with 7.2 per nine. The left-handed veteran throws just three pitches, with his “fastball” being the least frequent of all, a low 90’s sinker he throws a quarter of the time. He throws a cutter that averages 88.0 MPH 30% of the time, and then his high 70’s curveball which he throws around 45% of the time.

Urías allowed a run on five hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in six innings in his last time out, earning his fourth consecutive win. His lone mistake was a fifth-inning solo home run to Jose Iglesias, but the offense provided the support he needed. He now owns a crisp 2.57 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and has 83 strikeouts to 21 walks in 87.2 innings overall. Over his last five starts, he’s posted a 2.08 ERA, 3.10 FIP, and a 0.89 WHIP, with 41 strikeouts and nine walks over 34.2 innings. He isn’t quite where he was last year, but he’s definitely trending in the right direction. His peripheral numbers have been getting closer to where they were last season, with his strikeouts moving up, walks going down, and his homer suppression improving, allowing just one in his last four starts after allowing 12 over his previous 12 starts.

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Looks like Andrew Heaney will practically be a trade deadline acquisition.

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The Cardinals are really in for a tough series as they’ll be facing the top three in the Dodgers’ rotation.

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First pitch is at 1:10 PM PDT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!