Dodgers @ Cubs April 5, 2024: Miller starts series opener in Chicago

Photo: Sarah Wexler

The Dodgers (7-2) had a great homestand to start their season, taking three of four from the Cardinals (4-4) followed by a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants (2-5). The Chicago Cubs (4-2) lost their first two games of the season against the Texas Rangers (4-2), but proceeded to win the final game of that series followed by a sweep of the sad Colorado Rockies (1-6). They’re tied with the Dodgers for the longest active win streak in baseball at four games.

This is the first game of a six game road trip for the team, playing three day games in Chicago before taking on the Minnesota Twins (3-3) on Monday. The pitching matchup features two pitchers that couldn’t contrast each other more in Bobby Miller and Kyle Hendricks.

11:20 A.M. Chicago
SS Betts LF Happ (S)
DH Ohtani (L) RF Suzuki
1B Freeman (L) CF Bellinger (L)
C Smith DH Morel
3B Muncy (L) SS Swanson
RF Hernández, T. 1B Busch (L)
CF Outman (L) 2B Hoerner
LF Taylor 3B Madrigal
2B Lux (L) C Gomes
P Miller (R) P Hendricks (R)

The Dodgers will run out their standard lineup against right-handed pitching with one oddity. Teoscar Hernández will be in right field with Chris Taylor in left field despite recently signing Taylor Trammell with Jason Heyward landing on the injured list. If he’s not going to play against a right-handed pitcher, is he going to play at all? Anyways, the Cubs didn’t have a huge offseason after going (83-79) and missing the postseason.


Here’s how these two offenses performed last season.

They shocked plenty of people when they brought in manager Craig Counsell from the Milwaukee Brewers to start their offseason. They sat idly by for a while, but eventually re-signed Cody Bellinger, and traded prospects Jackson Ferris and Zyhir Hope to the Dodgers for Michael Busch and Yency Almonte. They had a good offense overall last year which is almost always required for making the postseason, but recently lost their ace Justin Steele for a little while with a hamstring issue coming off a fifth place finish in National League Cy Young voting. They also let Marcus Stroman leave in free agency, but replaced him with the Japanese lefty, Shota Imanaga.


Here’s how Miller and Hendricks compared last season amongst 102 starting pitchers with at least 120 innings pitched.

I have to admit, I like Kyle Hendricks. He averaged just 87.8 MPH on his fastball last year, and anyone who can get away with that these days is such an outlier. He throws his fastball and sinker both around that speed, making up 55% of his arsenal, both being his second and third most frequent pitches thrown. His changeup that hovers in the 80-82 range was his most frequently thrown pitch last season, coming in at a 41.1% clip with a very rare curveball tossed in maybe two or three times a game. In his last outing against the Texas Rangers, he allowed five runs on nine hits and two walks over 3.2 innings with just two strikeouts. That’s rather representative of what Hendricks is, where he can get roughed up by high level offenses, but performs excellently against teams struggling, or feature less top end talent. The defending World Series champions weren’t a great matchup for him and neither are the Dodgers, but if you’re not prepared to face him, you can get carved up by a guy maxing out at 89 MPH. He doesn’t strike many people out, but also doesn’t walk any, and his 46.3% ground-ball rate was 25th in baseball last season with a great infield defense behind him.

Miller was superb in his last outing, putting together the best start of his young career. He allowed just two hits and one walk against St. Louis, striking out eleven of the 21 batters he faced. He was great in his rookie season last year, but he looks to be on the cusp of really breaking out. Averaging 98.8 MPH on his four-seam fastball has him at eleven MPH faster than Kyle Hendricks last year which is an incredible funny pitching matchup. I wrote the game thread prior to Miller’s last start, so I’ll link that here if you’re interested in what I wrote before that start.


Good news for Heyward, but still odd they aren’t starting Trammell.

Not much else going on this morning.


First pitch is at 11:20 a.m. on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Avatar photo
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!