Coming off a dreadful end to the series in San Diego last weekend, the Cubs open a three-game set against the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine tonight. Chicago’s already sporadic offense will face a tall order, going up against Zach Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Ricky Nolasco.
Game One: Monday, August 26, 2013 – First pitch 9:10 p.m. CDT.
Zack Greinke (12-3, 2.91 ERA) toes the rubber for the red-hot Dodgers in Monday night’s opener. Los Angeles, winners of six of their last ten, holds what seems like an insurmountable 9 1/2 game lead in the National League West. After being benched and reprimanded early last week, National League Rookie of the Year candidate Yasiel Puig has bounced back, and continues to hit in the mid .300s, months after he took the league by storm.
Greinke will be opposed by young starter Jake Arrieta (1-0, 3.71 ERA) of the Cubs. Arrieta came to Chicago in the deal that sent Scott Feldman to Baltimore earlier this season, and has been fairly consistent for the Cubs in a handful of starts. First baseman Anthony Rizzo will bat third in the series opener, after spending five days in the #2 hole for manager Dale Sveum, where he went 7-for-24 (.292). Shortstop Starlin Castro will remain in the leadoff spot for the time being.
Game Two: Tuesday, August 27 – First pitch 9:10 p.m. CDT.
National League Cy Young frontrunner and potential MVP candidate Clayton Kershaw (13-7, 1.72 ERA) will look to continue his recent stretch of pure dominance. In the month of August, Kershaw notched an ERA of 0.90, tossing 30 innings and allowing just three earned runs during that stretch. He’s lasted eight full innings in five of his last six starts, entering play on Tuesday.
The Cubs counter with their lone All-Star representative Travis Wood (7-10, 3.22 ERA), who is coming off a no-decision against the Washington Nationals, in which he pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits – two of which left the ballpark. He also walked two and struck out four.
Wood is winless since a start on July 28, when he pitched seven innings, allowing just one unearned run on four hits against the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants.
Game Three: Wednesday, August 28 – First pitch 2:10 p.m. CDT
The Dodgers’ starter for Wednesday’s series finale seems like a less imposing figure, but right-hander Ricky Nolasco (5-1, 2.53) has put together quite the impressive resume this year with Los Angeles. In his career against Chicago, however, is a different case. In 12 innings of work, he has allowed six earned runs while walking three and striking out eight. He has a career earned run average of 4.50 against the Cubs.
Offseason acquisition Edwin Jackson (7-13, 5.00 ERA) counters for Chicago. It’s been a season of ups-and-downs for Jackson, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract in the offseason. In 22 innings of work in the month of August, Jackson has allowed 20 runs, 17 of which were earned, en route to a 6.95 ERA for the month. Needless to say, it hasn’t been a good month.