Cubs

Why Dodgers could be a playoff problem for Cubs

Why Dodgers could be a playoff problem for Cubs

LOS ANGELES – Imagine a Los Angeles Dodgers team doing more with less getting Clayton Kershaw back to start Game 1 of a playoff series. That could become a nightmare matchup for the Cubs, if Rich Hill stays healthy and continues his late-career renaissance, and if rookie phenom Julio Urias saves enough bullets for October.   

“They would be a tough team,” said Ben Zobrist, a World Series hero last year with the Kansas City Royals, the switch-hitter the Cubs signed with October specifically in mind. “We would have our hands full because of all the lefties they have. 

“We have to do a better job against lefties overall – and figuring out how to just get more runners on base. We tend to rely on the homer a little bit too much. And in those situations, (we) have to find a way to just take our hits and hit line drives around the park.”

On Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, the Cubs didn’t have any answers for Brock Stewart, a 24-year-old right-hander out of Illinois State University who matched $155 million lefty Jon Lester for five scoreless innings. The Dodgers manufactured a 1-0 victory, and might have swept the best team in baseball out of Chavez Ravine if not for Kris Bryant’s MVP game on Friday night.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]   

“They have a veteran group on the field,” manager Joe Maddon said. “They’re always able to come up with another pitcher somehow. They got a really good bullpen. For right now, they’ve been utilized a lot, so I don’t know how that’s going to hold up, but they are good.”

Maddon couldn’t resist taking a few passive-aggressive shots, but he did compare this Los Angeles bullpen to the 2002 Anaheim Angels team that won the World Series and gave him a championship ring as Mike Scioscia’s bench coach.
  
Kershaw (11-2, 1.79 ERA) appeared to be rolling toward his fourth National League Cy Young Award when he went on the disabled list with lower back pain in late June.

“Kershaw coming off a back injury, you just don’t know,” Maddon said. “Hill’s good. He’s reinvented. He’s a curveball pitcher and all that kind of good stuff. So, of course, they can be good.”

Maddon wondered how Urias – who settled down after a rocky start to win a 3-2 game on Saturday – would hold up at the age of 20 after throwing only 80-plus innings combined last year at four different minor-league affiliates. 

“The biggest concern would probably be that he would run out of gas,” Maddon said, “not being used to pitching that late into a year. And I know they’re mindful. I know they’re going to do things to restrict him, whatever. But that would be the biggest concern there.”

[RELATED: With John Lackey ramping up for return, could Cubs go to six-man rotation?] 

The Dodgers (73-57) built a lineup around professional hitters like Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley and Howie Kendrick. They have a two-way catcher (Yasmani Grandal), their own 22-year-old All-Star shortstop (Corey Seager) and a lights-out closer (Kenley Jansen).

“They’re in first place,” Lester said. “I don’t see why they should be overlooked. I don’t feel like they’re overlooked. Being a part of West Coast baseball for a couple months (with the Oakland A’s), I think really everything on the West Coast gets overlooked. I think it’s the time difference and a lot of other factors that are going on. But they’re a good team. They’ve been a good team.”

Maybe the Dodgers will expend too much energy trying to fend off the San Francisco Giants, and there are conditionals to Kershaw, Hill and Urias. But that left-handed-heavy rotation could mean the Cubs will be slamming their bats and helmets in frustration in October.  

“I’m not there yet,” Maddon said. “I’m not worried about the Dodgers. I’m worried about getting our guys healthy and us playing the game properly. If it comes to that, I would be more than happy. I would be ecstatic about facing them in the latter part of the season. They can throw as many lefties as they want. They’re good, but I can’t worry about the Dodgers.” 

Melisa Reidy, Addison Russell's ex-wife, shares disturbing story of abuse

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USA TODAY

Melisa Reidy, Addison Russell's ex-wife, shares disturbing story of abuse

Melisa Reidy, the ex-wife of Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, posted a blog late Thursday night detailing years of enduring physical, emotional and psychological abuse.

The post can be read here, and much of it is pretty difficult to stomach.

The couple split up in June 2017 after Melisa posted a now-deleted Instagram photo alleging infidelity. A friend of Melisa's commented on the Instagram post that there had also been physical abuse during the relationship.

MLB caught wind of the deleted comment and opened an investigation of Russell under its then-new domestic violence protocol.

The Cubs sent Russell home during the investigation but he was never suspended by Major League Baseball.

Reidy opted not to speak with Major League Baseball as part of the investigation.

Before Russell returned to the Cubs he spoke with reporters and denied after the allegations.

“Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful,” Russell said in June 2017. “For the well-being of my family, I’ll have no further comment.”

Russell has struggled at the plate each of the last two seasons. Following a breakout campaign in 2016 in which he hit 21 homers and had 95 RBIs, he compiled a .722 OPS in 2017 and is down to .657 in 130 games this season.

Stay with NBCSportsChicago.com throughout the day for more details on this story.

Sports Talk Live podcast: Are the Cubs hitting their stride?

Sports Talk Live podcast: Are the Cubs hitting their stride?

On this week's Sports Talk Live podcast, Hub Arkush and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.  The Cubs finally get an off day after 30 straight days of baseball.  Despite a blowout loss in Arizona, are they hitting their stride at the right time?  The guys look ahead to Bears/Cardinals and talk about the state of Matt Nagy’s offense. Plus Chuck Garfien drops by to discuss Hawk Harrelson’s final broadcast, Jose Quintana and car analogies. You can listen to the entire thing right here, or in the embeded player below: