Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#959 Chicago Cubs 8 vs.
#960 Los Angeles Dodgers -170
Thursday, June 13, 2019 at 10:10pm EDT
Written by Nick Raffoul

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The Chicago Cubs will travel on the road to Dodger Stadium on Thursday evening as they get set for the first of four games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Cubs are currently tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for the top spot in the division race, but they could lose some ground over the weekend. While Chicago is in L.A. for a heavyweight battle with the Dodgers, Milwaukee will travel to San Francisco for a date versus the lowly Giants. Can the Cubs keep their momentum going with a series-opening victory at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night?

Lester watching ERA sky-rocket over past five starts

The Cubs got into a petty beanball war in their series finale against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. Four players were hit by a pitch in Wednesday’s contest — two from each team — prompting strong words from both clubhouses. Javier Baez handled the plunkings the right way, retaliating with a 460-foot home run after being hit by a pitch earlier in the ball game.

Veteran lefty Jon Lester will toe the rubber for the Cubs when they open their series at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. The 36-year-old enters with a 5-4 overall record and a 3.56 ERA in 13 appearances this season. Lester has struggled as of late and is coming off of another poor outing in his last start against the St. Louis Cardinals. He surrendered four earned runs on five hits in six innings, but still escaped with a victory in a 9-4 Cubs’ win. The Cubs’ left-hander has given up four runs or more in four of his last five starts, watching as his ERA has sky-rocketed from 1.16 to 3.56 during that span.

In his only start against the Dodgers, this season, Lester allowed one run in five innings of work, but was still saddled with a tough-luck loss. He went 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in his previous six starts against L.A. dating back to the 2016 season.

Kershaw fresh off first loss of 2019 season

The Dodgers remained locked into the top spot in the NL West standings and they appear primed for the pennant after a 45-23 start. Even with the best winning percentage in the National League, all eyes will be on L.A. when the trade deadline nears at the end of July as they try to get over the proverbial World Series hump. Los Angeles will have to bolster their bullpen if they want to make another World Series run in 2019 and reliever Brad Hand could be one of the team’s top trade targets. The team also recently lost a red-hot Corey Seager to the injured list, but they should be able to absorb the blow without any major repercussions.

Los Angeles will turn to 31-year-old ace Clayton Kershaw, who will try to rebound following his first loss of the season. The Dodgers’ lefty is 5-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 starts, nine of which have been quality outings. To say that Kershaw has been efficient would be a massive understatement, as he has completed six innings or more in all 10 outings and walked no more than one batter in any of his last eight starts — all while averaging just 95.2 pitches per outing this season.

Over the past three seasons, Kershaw has faced the Cubs just twice, going 0-0 with an unsightly 4.82 ERA during that span. According to Baseball Savant, the current Cubs’ roster is batting .223 in 232 plate appearances off of the Dodgers’ ace heading into Thursday’s matchup.

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The Cubs have struggled on the road in this series,winning just two of their last nine games at Dodger Stadium. However, Kershaw owns an ugly 4.82 ERA against Chicago since the 2016 season and he totaled just 9 ⅓ innings of work in two starts against them during that span. Meanwhile. Lester has had success against the Dodgers as of late and he pitched well when he lost against them earlier this year. Seager being down takes some pop out of the Dodgers’ lineup, which should help Lester keep runs off the board. Take Chicago to come out on top in this National League heavyweight showdown in L.A. on Thursday night.

Prediction: Chicago Cubs +167

Full-Game Total Pick

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The over is 5-1 in the last six meetings between these two teams and 3-0-1 in Kershaw’s last four starts against the Cubs. Chicago has given him trouble over the years and as potent as the Dodgers have been offensively this season, the Cubs remain one of the best offensive teams in baseball. They’ve quietly hit more home runs than the Dodgers in two less games and if you factor in Lester’s recent struggles, you have to like your chances with the over in this spot.  Take this game to go over the projected total on Thursday night.

Prediction: Over 8
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.