The Dodgers rolled through the Diamondbacks to advance to the NLCS, sweeping them in three games. Their offense has found new life with the revival of Yasiel Puig, who is arguably their hottest hitter in the postseason thus far. The Cubs completed a magnificent series win over the Nationals. Since the All-Star break, they have played to their potential and are finally looking like the reigning World Series champions.
With star players filling both dugouts, this series could shape up to be very intriguing, as the two most complete teams in the NL clash in a rematch of the 2016 NLCS.
CHC: Can the offense produce against the staff of LA?
LAD: Will the offense show up this time around without All-Star SS Corey Seager?Embed from Getty Images
The Cubs defeated the Nationals in game five of the NLDS behind an offensive outburst, scoring four decisive runs off of Nats’ ace Max Scherzer. But, it hasn’t been the “Bryzzo Show” as many were expecting. Although Rizzo and Bryant have combined for eight RBI’s and 14 total bases, Addison Russell has been equally as impressive. He provided the go-ahead two-RBI double in game five that rendered his team the offensive spark they so desperately needed. He has collected four RBI’s and two doubles this October. But in total, this team has batted a miserable .180 in the NLDS. Chicago had undoubtedly relied on their pitching to slip by in divisional series, but this effort cannot be replicated in the impending days when they take on the scorching Dodgers.
Speaking of Chicago’s pitching staff, they were superb in the LDS. In one start and one relief appearance, Jon Lester threw 9.2 innings while only relinquishing two earned-runs on three hits. His bulldog mentality on the mound has surely propelled him to postseason greatness throughout the entirety of his career. Jose Quintana and Jake Arrieta did not give up a single run during their starts. Coming off of his longest career appearance and completed save, Wade Davis has closed 3 games in October thus far. As a whole, this staff is averaging 8.39 strikeouts per nine innings. Pitching has surely been the forte of this squad throughout the 2017 campaign, and it will surely be required if Cubs want an opportunity to repeat as champions of the Fall Classic.Embed from Getty Images
Los Angeles completed a dominating three-game sweep of Arizona. After slumping in September, the Dodgers are now firing on all cylinders. The offense has batted an impressive .298, scoring 20 runs and compiling 31 hits. Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, and Logan Forsythe all batted over .440 last series, combining for 15 of their hits and 10 of their RBI’s. Even without the presence of Corey Seager, this ball club still has the depth offensively to put runs on the board. The biggest surprise this postseason for the Dodgers has been Yasiel Puig. “The Wild Horse” has batted .445 while driving in 4 RBI’s in the three games played thus far. From being sent down to AAA and discussed as a trade-piece in 2016, Puig has regained his superstar-status and will surely be the X-factor for this offense moving forward.
The pitching of the Dodgers has been equally impressive, as the Diamondbacks could only muster 10 runs with 18 hits while striking out 28 times. Even though Clayton Kershaw hasn’t fully regained his confidence following the back injury he suffered in July, the rest of the pitching staff has picked up his slack. It has not been one guy either, and the most innings thrown by a single pitcher has come from Kershaw himself (6.1 innings). As a whole, this staff has averaged 2.93 innings per start/appearance. But, they have all been somewhat effective in their short outings, averaging 9.33 strikeouts per nine innings while only walking seven. Yu Darvish’s star shined bright during his start, throwing five innings of 1-run ball, adding seven strikeouts into the mix.Embed from Getty Images
During the regular season, the Dodgers won 4 out of the six meetings with the Cubs, but that is irrelevant in October. The Dodgers are hot, and the Cubs barely slid past the Nationals. But, as we all know, this is October baseball. Anything can happen.
Prediction: Dodgers beat Cubs in six games to clinch World Series berth for the first time since 1988. Justin Turner continues producing, driving in four while clubbing two home runs. Puig blasts his first of the postseason. Kershaw gets back on track with two phenomenal appearances (not just starts…). The Cubs cannot combat the production of the Dodgers’ offense.
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