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.
Javier Baez is the hero the Cubs need AND the hero the Cubs deserve
— Dan (@DanSchmuldt) June 12, 2019
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.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 27, 2019
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.
- Cubs are 28-7 in Lester’s last 35 starts during game 1 of a series.
- Cubs are 7-2 in Lester’s last 9 Thursday starts.
- Cubs are 12-4 in Lester’s last 16 road starts.