Series notes: Cubs vs. Dodgers

Series notes: Cubs vs. Dodgers

Friday, April 22, 2011Posted: 10:00 a.m.
Cubs (9-9) vs. Dodgers (10-10)
Series schedule
Friday: 1:20 p.m. on WGN
Saturday: 12:05 p.m. on CSN
Sunday: 1:20 p.m. on CSN

Starting Pitchers
Friday: Casey Coleman (1-0, 4.22) vs. Chad Billingsley (1-1, 4.91)
Saturday: Ryan Dempster (1-2, 6.84) vs. Ted Lilly (1-2, 4.09)
Sunday: Carlos Zambrano (2-0, 4.21) vs. TBA

Previous games
The Cubs won two of three against the Padres this week, including a doubleheader split on Wednesday. They won the opener, 2-1, on Reed Johnsons walk-off homer in the 11th. They lost the nightcap, 5-4, despite another big game from Johnson (three hits, including an RBI double).

The Dodgers franchise may be in trouble, with MLB recently taking control of the day-to-day operations of the team. But on the field, they took three of four from Atlanta this week, including a walk-off win on Wednesday, when Matt Kemps two-run homer in the 12th sent the Dodgers faithful home happy.
This is the Cubs first meeting with the Dodgers this season. Last year, the Cubs went 3-4 against the Dodgers, including a 2-1 record at Wrigley Field.

Whos hot?
Kosuke Fukudome has a six-game hitting streak, during which he is 9-for-21 all singles. Darwin Barney went 2-for-5 with an RBI single in Game 2 on Wednesday and now has multi-hit efforts in six of his last 10 games. For Los Angeles, Andre Ethier is riding a 17-game hitting streak to raise his average to .385, while Casey Blake has five hits in the last two games.

StorylinesMarlon Byrd, who is 2-for-24 over his last six games, is expected to return to the lineup Friday night. Chicago, as a team, scored just seven runs in the three-game series with San Diego. Nevertheless, the Cubs entered Thursday with a .277 team average - the second-highest mark in the majors. Still, the Cubs rank just 14th in the majors in runs scored.
Sound off
Given the inconsistencies out of the Cubs' offense this season, how confident are you in the team's offense?

Willson Contreras' bat-flip game is already in midseason form

Willson Contreras' bat-flip game is already in midseason form

The MLB regular season is still 13 days away, but Willson Contreras is ready for the swings to count.

The Cubs catcher hit an absolute bomb of a homer Friday afternoon off White Sox pitcher Reynaldo Lopez, but it wasn't just a homer.

Contreras put an exclamation mark on the dinger (his third of the spring and the second this week) with an A+ bat flip:

I'm not sure what's more majestic: The 450-foot shot or the 45-foot bat-flip.

Either way, Contreras is ready for those 2018 NL MVP votes.

Cubs opposition research: It's an even year, so count on a Giants comeback


Cubs opposition research: It's an even year, so count on a Giants comeback

The expectations couldn't be any higher for the 2018 Chicago Cubs. 

It's 2016 all over again. The goal isn't just a trip to the playoffs or another NL pennant. It's World Series or bust for this group of North Siders.

With that, let's take a look at all of the teams that could stand in the way of the Cubs getting back to the Fall Classic:

San Francisco Giants

2017 record: 64-98, last place in NL West

Offseason additions: Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, Austin Jackson, Gregor Blanco, Tony Watson, Julian Fernandez

Offseason departures: Michael Morse, Matt Cain, Matt Moore, Denard Span, Kyle Crick, Christian Arroyo

X-factor: Brandon Belt

The trades for Longoria and McCutchen are going to get all the attention, but the Giants are sort of acquiring Belt, too. 

Their sweet-swining lefty first baseman only appeared in 104 games in 2017, missing the last few weeks of the season with a bad concussion. When he was on the field, he led the team in both homers (18) and walks (66) despite just 451 plate appearances. 

Belt has turned into one of the most patient hitters in the game and if he is able to stay healthy for a full season, would slot in perfectly in the 2-hole ahead of McCutchen, Longoria and Buster Posey. 

Projected lineup

1. Joe Panik - 2B
2. Brandon Belt - 1B
3. Andrew McCutchen - RF
4. Buster Posey - C
5. Evan Longoria - 3B
6. Hunter Pence - LF
7. Brandon Crawford - SS
8. Austin Jackson - CF

Projected rotation

1. Madison Bumgarner
2. Johnny Cueto
3. Jeff Samardzija
4. Ty Blach
5. Chris Stratton


The Giants tied for the worst record in Major League Baseball in 2017, surprising many around the league. Absolutely nothing went right for the team, from a lack of power on the field (Belt missed a third of the season and still led the team in homers), injuries (Bumgarner only made 17 starts) and general ineffectiveness (Mark Melancon).

But the Giants are a team that excels in even years, though the Cubs may have broken that juju by knocking San Fran out of the NLDS in 2016.

Still, between the return to health of key players and some big moves that improved the lineup, this team is primed for a return to form.

Watson is a nice piece at the back end of the bullpen and bet on a rebound from Melancon, who was one of the best late-inning relievers in the game from 2013-16 (1.80 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 147 saves).

Expect more out of the rotation with Bumgarner and Cueto a dynamic 1-2 punch. Cubs fans are familiar with what Samardzija can do if he gets on a role, too.

It seems crazy to pick the Giants to finish higher than the Diamondbacks, but they still have the same core of players from the championship years and have a much-improved roster.

Prediction: Second place in NL West, wild-card team

Complete opposition research

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Franciso Giants