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Chicago Cubs: Weekend series with Dodgers could be postseason preview

Jun 1, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Trayce Thompson (21) slides safely into second base with a double as Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) makes a late tag during the fourth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 1, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Trayce Thompson (21) slides safely into second base with a double as Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) makes a late tag during the fourth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Now that there are only 36 games left in the regular season, the Chicago Cubs are set. With the National League Central in their back pockets, it’s time to focus on the postseason.

Yesterday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs completed the sweep of the San Diego Padres. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks pitched well and the offense did enough to get the job done. Let’s move on to Los Angeles for a three-game weekend set with the Clayton Kershawless Dodgers.

But to our surprise, the Dodgers haven’t been all that bad without their Ace in the starting rotation. In fact, Los Angeles managed to surge past the San Francisco Giants to claim first place in the National League West. San Francisco has played terribly since the All-Star break.

Not to mention, they had a better record than the Cubs at the break. That all changed as soon as teams went back to work following the Summer Classic. As of August 25th, L.A. holds the third-best record in the National League with the Cubs, obviously, holding the best overall.

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Because of how well these two clubs have been playing since the break, this weekend set could be a postseason preview. Despite Chicago being swept by the Dodgers in their previous postseason showdown.

Earlier on in the year, both teams met at Wrigley Field for the first time this season. Joe Maddon and his boys got the best of L.A., claiming three out of four. On Friday, Mike Montgomery will take the series opener. Mike earned Joe’s trust after his marvelous performance in Colorado.

Since Chicago’s rotation reset in San Diego, the Dodgers will miss out on Jake Arrieta. Which is good for the home team. Remember the last time Jake took the mound against L.A. on their turf? However, southpaw

However, southpaw Jon Lester takes the mound on Sunday.

No doubt, this pitching staff is going to have its hands full. The Dodgers have been swinging dangerous bats as of late, hammering eight home runs against the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend.

Next: The importance of Zobrist

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez has three of them. So far in San Francisco, both Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner have fallen. Closer Kenley Jansen is now up to 37 saves after recording back-to-back saves on Tuesday and Wednesday. Meanwhile, Aroldis Chapman has been doing his job for the Chicago Cubs.

Players to watch (or continue to watch) for the Cubbies will be Addison Russell and Kris Bryant. They both launched home runs in back-to-back games while in San Diego, making a case for N.L. Player of the Week honors.

Russell has five home runs dating back to last Friday in Colorado while Bryant — well Bryant just loved being back where he played college ball. Way before Theo Epstein took him in the first round just a few years ago.

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