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    Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    Playoff Preview – NLDS Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs
    -Cybsball20


    Wednesday 10/1 at Chicago
    LA - Lowe Chi - Dempster

    Thursday 10/2 at Chicago
    LA- Billingsly Chi - Zambrano

    Saturday 10/4 at Los Angeles
    LA- Kuroda Chi - Harden

    Sunday 10/5 at Los Angeles (If Necessary)
    LA-Maddux or Lowe Chi - Lilly

    Tuesday 10/7 at Chicago (If Necessary)
    LA-Billingsly or Lowe Chi – Dempster



    Results This Season
    At Chicago
    5/1 Cubs 3 Dodgers 1
    WP Dempster LP Billingsly
    SV Wood

    5/2 Cubs 3 Dodgers 1
    WP Gallagher LP Kuroda
    SV Wood

    5/3 Cubs 2 Dodgers 1 (10 innings)
    WP Howry LP Park

    At Los Angeles
    6/5 Cubs 5 Dodgers 4
    WP Howry LP Saito
    SV Wood

    6/6 Dodgers 3 Cubs 0
    WP Kuroda LP Gallagher

    6/7 Dodgers 7 Cubs 3
    WP Lowe LP Zambrano

    6/8 Cubs 3 Dodgers 1
    WP Marquis LP Penny

    About the Dodgers
    The Cubs were 5-2 against the Dodgers this year, but this certainly isn’t the same Dodger team they faced in May and June. Since those games the Dodgers have added Angel Berroa, Casey Blake, Greg Maddux, and a certain slugger by the name of Manny Ramirez. Joe Torre has certainly had his hands full in his first season as Dodger Manager. Not only does he have to get used to the LA lifestyle and freeway gridlock, but he has had to deal with a slew of injuries, without his top two pitchers for most of the year and had to deal with Jeff Kent’s chronically red arse… The Dodgers made a hefty investment in Andruw Jones, a move that makes owner Frank McCourt wish he had thrown that $36 million towards Bear Stearns. Jones isn’t even one of the top 5 outfielders on the club right now and will be lucky to make the post season roster. Two stars that have made the playoff roster despite injuries are Rafael Furcal and Jeff Kent. As of today, Torre has not ruled out starting either one. Furcal would be a huge addition at short and taking his usual leadoff spot in the lineup.

    The Dodgers are rolling into the postseason on the hot bats of Manny Ramirez (.418 and a freakish .1370 OPS) and Andre Ethier (.418 and .1168 OPS) over the last 30 days. The key could be how well the young bats respond to playoff pressure. Matt Kemp (.290 35sb .799ops), James Loney (.289 90rbi .772ops), Russell Martin (280 18sb .781ops), and Blake DeWitt (.264 .728ops) are products of what has long been one of the best farm systems in baseball and along with Ethier, all 26 years old or younger. The Dodgers sport a .264 team BA; have 137 HR’s, 126sb.

    Perhaps more impressive is the Dodgers pitching, ranked #2 in MLB in overall pitching for the year despite missing their top 2 (by contract) pitchers for most of the year. Over the last 30 days the staff has been led by Derek Lowe, only giving up 2 runs TOTAL over his last 6 starts. Lowe carries that 0.50 era over the last 30 days along with his clutch postseason reputation to the hill in game one at Wrigley. Ideally the Dodgers would follow up with Brad Penny and Jason Schmidt, but it looks like the Blue will follow Lowe with star in the making, Chad Billingsly (4-0 3.09 last 30 days) and Hiroki Kuroda (2-1 3.62 last 30 days). If a fourth starter is needed the Dodgers will look to former Cub Greg Maddux or bring back Lowe on short rest. Rookie Phenom Clayton Kershaw will make the move to the bullpen, adding a third left handed arm to a very strong unit.

    The Bullpen is anchored by Takashi Saito, perhaps one of the most underrated closers in the game. Setting up Saito are hard throwing youngsters Hong-Chi Kuo and Jonathan Broxton, who both feature fastballs in the upper 90’s. Lefty specialist Joe Beimel has been very effective this year, but doesn’t figure to get a whole lot of work against the predominately right handed hitting cubs.

    About the Cubs
    The Cubs come into the series with the best record in the National league (97-64). While the Dodgers were scrapping for their playoff lives, Chicago was able to cruise into the playoffs, resting some regulars and getting good looks at some younger players. The Cubs made a big splash trading for oft-injured Rich Harden but passed on some other possible moves, comfortable with what they had. The mostly right handed hitting lineup will be facing three right handed starters right out of the gate, so the early season pickup of Jim Edmonds could play a major part in the series. The Cubs picked Edmonds up off the scrap heap, after being discarded by last place San Diego, but Edmonds may have found the fountain of youth in Chicago. Since joining the Cubs, Edmonds has hit .256 with 19 home runs. After a stellar September in 2007, Geovany Soto has emerged as the steadying force for the Cubs. The MVP candidate and shoe in Rookie of the Year hit .285 with 23 HRs and has been amazing behind the plate.

    The hottest hitter for the Cubs over the last month has been Mike Fontenot (.366 .909ops). Fontenot, who hasn’t been an every day starter, could play a big part against the right handed pitching of the Dodgers, especially if Mark DeRosa’s let calf is still acting up. DeRosa, perhaps one of the most underrated players in the game, injured the calf last week and has been sitting out since the 24th. For the Cubs to make a deep postseason run they are going to need production from the heart of the lineup. Aramis Ramirez has hit .342 over the last 30 days, but only hit 3 home runs in that same time frame. Derek Lee, who has had an overall disappointing season by his standards, is hitting just .273 with 2 home runs over the last 30 days. Probably most disappointing towards the end of the season, Alfonso Soriano is hitting just .243 over the last month, with 21 strikeouts in 82 at bats.

    The Cubs pitching will probably be the biggest wild card in this series. When healthy, their staff would set up great for the post season. Unfortunately, Zambrano and Harden have had some nagging arm issues, forcing them to miss a few starts down the stretch. Zambrano followed up a no hitter on September 14 with two terrible starts, giving up 13 runs over 6 1/3 innings. Harden says he feels fine, but hasn’t been showing his normal mid 90’s fastball over the last few weeks, instead sitting around 88-89. Harden also has 16 walks over his last 4 starts (22 innings) and when you get into post season, where every run counts, that could come back to bite you. The Cubs have already decided on a four man rotation for the first series. They will start with Ryan Dempster (17-6, 2.99 ERA) who has been solid all year in his first year back as a starter after spending the last few years in the bullpen. Game two and three will go to Zambrano and Harden, and Ted Lilly (17-9 4.09ERA) will follow in game four if necessary.

    The Cubs bullpen will likely play a huge role in the series. Pinella is going to carry 11 pitchers for the postseason, likely meaning the end of the year for Bob Howry. Kerry Wood (34-40Sv 3.26ERA) and Carlos Marmol (82app 2.68ERA 114K’s) have been nothing short of solid at the end of games. Fifth starter Jason Marquis will likely get the spot as the long man out of the pen. Pinella has already stated that rookie Jeff Samardzija has earned a spot on the postseason roster, despite a few late season struggles. Lefties Sean Marshall and Neil Cotts will likely make the first round roster and the last spot will come down to Bob Howry and Chad Gaudin. If Gaudin is healthy enough to go then he should get the spot.

    Key Players and Pitchers
    Chicago Cubs
    Key Player – Jim Edmonds - One of few left handed bats against mostly right handed pitching. The Cubs have had a power outage lately and will need Edmonds to get hot and stay hot.
    Key Pitcher – Jeff Samardzija - With the iffy status of Zambrano and Harden the bullpen will be VERY important this week, especially in the middle innings. The Cubs will need some big innings from Samardzija in tight games.

    Los Angeles Dodgers
    Key Player – Andre Ethier – Everyone knows that Manny Ramirez has been on fire since joining the Blue, especially Pinella. The Cubs will do everything they can to make sure ManRam doesn’t beat him, making Ethier’s performance even more important.

    Key Pitcher – Derek Lowe – The Dodgers need Lowe to be the playoff pitcher he was for the Red Sox. They will need him to come out and dominate hitters at Wrigley and take a lead in the series and may need him to throw the deciding game, something he should be used to by now.

    Game Preview and Predictions
    Game One - Lowe vs. Dempster in Chicago 5:30 PM
    Derek Lowe is a postseason stud and I think he will continue his postseason dominance here in game one. The Dodgers will come out playing small ball against Dempster and the Cubs, knowing it won’t take many runs to get the win. Lowe goes 8 and gets the win, but knocking him out of consideration for game 4. Dodgers win 3-1.

    Game Two – Billingsly vs. Zambrano in Chicago 8:30 PM
    This game has a ton of wild cards in it. How healthy is Zambrano? How will the young Billingsly respond to a postseason road game? Pinella won’t stick with Zambrano long if he gets a bad vibe for Big Z’s command. I think the pressure of the big game game will get to Billingsly a bit, as well as the Cubs bats. Cubs win 6-4.

    Game Three – Harden vs. Kuroda in Los Angeles 9:00 PM
    Kuroda threw a great game when the Dodgers shut out the Cubs in June and I believe he will pick up right where he left off. The Dodgers get to Harden early by being patient, drawing walks, and feasting on mistakes made in the zone. Dodgers win 5-2.

    Game Four – Lilly vs. Maddux in Los Angeles TBD
    One of the many curses bestowed upon the Cubs is former Cubs coming back to bite them. Unfortunately for Cubs fans, this one continues that trend. Both teams go to the bullpen early and the Dodgers win a wild one, 7-5.


    Last edited by cybsball20; 09-29-2008 at 10:56 AM.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    I'll be posting my other previews as I finish them up... Brewers - Phillies later today and AL tomorrow.



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  3. #3
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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    I like the way this one turns out.


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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    Nice write up. The more I study at this series, the more formidable the Dodgers look. After the additions of Manny and Blake, they have a few more guys with a proven track record of post season success.



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    Chile Mac is Back!
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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    I don't like the prediction, but it seems like it could be very accurate.



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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    I'm gonna get me a Dodger dog and wait for the next round. This looks over to me.


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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    Pitching is going to be a big key in this series. I actually think coming in Lilly has been the best in the rotation recently and Dempster is tough at home so starting him game 1 makes sense. Dodger stadium is also a pitcher's ballpark so hopefully that helps the pen out in game 3 and 4 if necessary. I really hope Howry is left off, I'd even take Wuertz or Guzman over him right now but I have a feeling Lou is going with him for his veteran expirience but will only use him in non-critical spots.


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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    And don't forget, the competition that the Dodgers have faced recently have been less then stellar. They have played 3 games with a team with a winning record in September, a far cry from who the Cubs had to face. And despite the fact that Harden's velocity may be down, he has still been very effective. Cubs in 4.



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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    LETS GO CUBBIES!



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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    cysball20-That's a lot of work and a great analysis (I also like the outcome). I believe the Dodgers just decided to leave Kuo off the roster, though he hasn't pitched much lately anyway and Kershaw should fill that role. This should be a great series and game one will be huge. The Dodgers with Lowe need to take away the home field advantage from the Cubs. It will put a lot of pressure on Bills in game 2 if they don't.



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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    Quote Originally Posted by travman23 View Post
    Pitching is going to be a big key in this series. I actually think coming in Lilly has been the best in the rotation recently and Dempster is tough at home so starting him game 1 makes sense. Dodger stadium is also a pitcher's ballpark so hopefully that helps the pen out in game 3 and 4 if necessary. I really hope Howry is left off, I'd even take Wuertz or Guzman over him right now but I have a feeling Lou is going with him for his veteran expirience but will only use him in non-critical spots.
    Just heard now from a good source that it might be Cotts as the odd man out with Howry and Gaudin in...



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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    Quote Originally Posted by CYKOFAN View Post
    cysball20-That's a lot of work and a great analysis (I also like the outcome). I believe the Dodgers just decided to leave Kuo off the roster, though he hasn't pitched much lately anyway and Kershaw should fill that role. This should be a great series and game one will be huge. The Dodgers with Lowe need to take away the home field advantage from the Cubs. It will put a lot of pressure on Bills in game 2 if they don't.
    That would make sense, especially in round 1 with the right handed heavy lineup the Cubs bring. IF they were to face the Phils in the NLCS you would probably see him back.



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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    The Cubs played in a playoff type atmoshpere yesterday at Milwaukee. Let's hope the 3 and out last year still stings a little.



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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    I just bought two tickets to game two on Ebay!!!

    I'm so pumped for this. My fourth time at Wrigley this year and my first Playoff game ever!!!


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    Re: Playoff Preview Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

    Quote Originally Posted by rworkman83 View Post
    I just bought two tickets to game two on Ebay!!!

    I'm so pumped for this. My fourth time at Wrigley this year and my first Playoff game ever!!!
    I will be at game 2. I was lucky enough to win the opportunity to buy facevalue tickets on cubs.com. Having a game at 8:30 at Wrigley is going to be a great atmosphere!



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