Who has the edge in Cubs-Dodgers NLCS?
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The Cubs’ rotation was second only to the Indians’ in second-half ERA (3.36), but it enters this series trying to regroup after an all-hands-on-deck finish to the five-game NLDS. Jon Lester won’t start until at last Game 2 and Kyle Hendricks until at least Game 3. The Dodgers’ rotation was the best in the majors this season, and it’s rested, healthy and lined up after a first-round sweep of the Diamondbacks. Clayton Kershaw’s relative mortality in the postseason doesn’t offset a clear top-to-bottom advantage. Edge: Dodgers.
Two words: Kenley Jansen. Seven more on the Dodgers: Best bullpen in the league all year. Meanwhile, there are few words to describe the disarray the Cubs’ bullpen is in as it opens the series with Wade Davis likely out for at least the first game, and few other trusted sources of late-inning work. The Cubs might swap out an arm or two for this series. Edge: Dodgers.
Chris Taylor improved the top of the order for the Dodgers in the second half, and the Dodgers have good power/on-base balance, left-right balance and veteran-youth balance — much like the Cubs. Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is dealing with a “barking” back and has had elbow issues in the second half. But both lineups remain sneaky to dangerous, top to bottom. Edge: Even.
The Dodgers and Cubs match up well at the corner infield spots, corner outfield spots and at times behind the plate. The Cubs have the clear advantage in the middle infield with Addison Russell and Javy Baez, and in center when Albert Almora Jr. plays. Edge: Cubs.
Dave Roberts, last year’s manager of the year, has a deeper roster than even a year ago, and through a boat-race regular season and a first-round playoff sweep, he hasn’t been tested much. Three-time manager of the year Joe Maddon still hears about his questionable pitching decisions last November and nearly saw some ultra-aggressive moves backfire on him already this postseason. But it’s hard to ignore the results from the Cubs’ most successful postseason manager since Frank Chance. Edge: Even.
Anthony Rizzo is a three-time All-Star with 32 homers for the Cubs, and he had some huge RBI the first three games of the NLDS. But Dodgers broadcaster Alanna Rizzo has three regional Emmy awards, and the Dodgers have won the NL West all four years she has been on the broadcast team. And for those scoring at home, the broadcaster tweeted in 2012: “I have gotten this question 1,000 times. Although I have 3 relatives named Anthony Rizzo, I’m NOT related to the @Cubs Anthony Rizzo.” Edge: Dodgers.
Wittenmyer’s bottom line: Dodgers in 6.
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