Cubs set for Saturday doubleheader in search of badly-needed momentum
Winners in just four of their last 15 contests, the Cubs are perilously close to circling the drain heading into this weekend’s matchup with the powerhouse Dodgers at Wrigley Field.
At 9-15 on the year, the only team in worse shape in the NL Central is the Reds, whose ownership mailed in the 2022 season before it even began – resulting in Cincinnati getting off to a woeful 3-22 start, worst in all baseball. But make no mistake. Chicago is in real danger of having the nail put in their proverbial coffin and the first obstacle to overcome will be Los Angeles.
Per usual, Dave Roberts’ club is rolling, entering the weekend tied with the Padres atop the surprisingly competitive National League West. In Saturday’s first game, LA turns to all-time franchise strikeout leader Clayton Kershaw, who has seemingly found the Fountain of Youth this year.
The left-hander is off to a 3-0 start with a sterling 2.35 ERA on the year. Looking at the series preview on MLB.com, something that really jumps off the page is the number of Cubs who have little or no experience against Kershaw. Only Willson Contreras has faced the southpaw more than 10 times in his career – hitting .273 with a home run in 11 at-bats.
Chicago counters with a left-hander of their own in Drew Smyly, who will take the ball after returning from the bereavement list. The veteran is off to a solid start, as well, working to a 2.79 ERA early on. Given the trajectory of this team of late, I’m already starting to circle his name on a list of guys who could make for attractive trade bait come July.
In the night cap, it’s another matchup of lefties with Tyler Anderson starting for the Dodgers opposite Daniel Norris for the Cubs. This marks Norris’ first start with Chicago – and his first in any capacity since Opening Day 2020, when he allowed a pair of runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings of work as a member of the Tigers.
In other words, it’s going to be a bullpen game for the North Siders.
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Last season, the Cubs and Dodgers played each other incredibly evenly, with Chicago taking four-of-seven against Los Angeles. Of course, last year’s Cubs team looked wildly different than this year’s iteration, which is already fighting for its proverbial life here in just the first week of May.