Chicago Cubs: The road to the pennant goes through Los Angeles

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

This series between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers has many people talking another potential October meeting. The path to the National League pennant may lie between these two teams.

So far this road trip for the Chicago Cubs has been brutal. Going into Saturday’s game, the Cubs are 1-4 as they lost 2/3 in Colorado and the first two in Los Angeles. The Cubs and Dodgers are always an intriguing matchup due to its potential of being an October preview. They faced each other in 2016 and 2017 and between them have claimed the last three NL pennants.

Despite the Cubs taking the 2016 NLCS and eventually winning the crown, it has been the Dodgers who have been on top. Back-to-back pennants in 2017 and 2018 and 47-23 so far this season makes one wonder how big the gap is between the two clubs. Some argue the difference is not far off, while this current series may say otherwise.

It has been such a roller coaster for the Cubs in 2019. They have had streaks where they look great and streaks where they look awful. The Dodgers have not lost two in a row since mid-April and had just one bad stretch where they lost six in a row. Looking at both teams and this current series, what can we really take away from this?

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Looking at the two teams

A lot can happen between now and October. Teams get hot; teams get cold, teams lose key players and teams acquire big pieces (Cubs getting Craig Kimbrel for example). Nothing is set in stone but going off this season so far and the past several, one can see which team has the upper hand in a number of areas.

In 2016 the Cubs were far and away the best team in the NL and baseball. Past few years have been different. Right now they have Cody Bellinger putting up a .360/.453/.702 slash, Max Muncy still raking at .287/.374/.543 and Justin Turner at .314/.399/.455.

Not to mention the rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s 1.36 ERA, Rich Hill, and Walker Buehler. They are on pace for another 100+ win regular season and will be tough to beat in October.

This series so far has been frustrating because the Cubs have jumped into early leads, lost them and their offense just shut down after the third inning. Back at Wrigley Field when the Cubs took two o three from the Dodgers, they built on early leads and were able to erase deficits and win. This Cubs team has beaten this Dodgers team this year, but all were at home so far.

A potential series would likely (unless the Cubs go on an absolute tear and surpass them) see the Dodgers have home field where they are currently 27-7.

Look, long story short…the Cubs are an outstanding team, but the Dodgers are clearly better. No question the Dodgers are the NL favorites right now.

What is the gap and how worried should Cubs fans be

This is not meant to be a “Well, the Dodgers are better, so it’s absolutely hopeless,” post. That is why I brought up the many factors that can determine a baseball team’s run in the postseason. It can be anyone in the hunt right coming out on top in the NL. Heck, the Brewers last year were one win away from the World Series.

Nobody can say for sure the Dodgers (or any team for that matter) are 100% winning the pennant even if they have the best chances. But it is very fair to say that the Cubs need to get through the Dodgers to reach the World Series again looks like a huge mountain to climb. Los Angeles has a lot of firepower and great pitching…and so do the Cubs! There is a clear gap in between the two teams but regular season play does not always equate to postseason play.

Cubs are still struggling with RISP. dark. Next

I think most people can look at the Dodgers and say they are the class of the NL right now. They probably should be, they have won back-to-back pennants, have won six straight division titles and have dominated the regular season the past several years. However, the Cubs still are the team that has raised the trophy most recently between the two and know what it is like to win 11 postseason games in a season.

Chances for the Cubs in a seven-game series right now may seem not so great. But there is always a reason for some hope despite the Dodgers dominance.