Jason Hammel and the Chicago Cubs face Julio Urias and the Dodgers in Los Angeles for a Saturday Matinee.
The National League Central-leading Chicago Cubs are 4-1 against the leaders of the NL West this year, including a thrilling extra-inning win last night.
Urias last faced the Chicago Cubs on June 2, the second start of his career. Since the Cubs piled on the runs that game, Urias has improved. He has 3.10 ERA and with 55 Ks in the 49 1/3 innings since he pitched at Wrigley Field. Urias featured a fantastic slider in his last outing in Cincinnati, striking out six and not allowing a run in six innings.
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Manager Joe Maddon sets right-handed heavy line-up to face Urias, with Anthony Rizzo being the only true left-handed batter. The top five of the order are as expected, with Jorge Soler, Willson Contreras, and Javier Baez slotted in the 6 through 8 spots. Soler starts in right field while Ben Zobrist plays left field behind Jason Hammel.
Hammel last faced the Dodgers was May 30 but left with cramps after two innings. Since the All-Star break, the resurgent right-hander has posted a 6-1 record with an ERA of 2.18. That is the third best ERA in the Nation League. However, in his last start, Hammel was rocked for 10 runs (six of which were earned), in three and one-third innings in Coors Field. He must avoid the middle of the plate , allowing 13 home runs and having a 4.41 ERA on the road.
The lineup for the Dodgers will see major changes today. Veteran second baseman, Chase Utley, leads off the team instead of batting eighth as he did last night. They also set 2015 All-Star and Rookie of the Year candidate Joc Pederson in center, batting seventh.
Player to watch?
Ben Zobrist. He is batting .317 over his last 22 games, .317 vs lefty pitching, and .313 on the road. Look for him to have a solid outing, getting on base and allowing Russell and Soler to bat in high leverage situations.
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