NLCS scouting report, prediction – Daily News



NLCS SCHEDULE

Game 1: at Dodgers, Saturday, 5:08 p.m., TBS

Game 2: at Dodgers, Sunday, 4:38 p.m., TBS

Game 3: at Cubs, Tuesday, TBD

Game 4: at Cubs, Wednesday, TBD

Game 5-x: at Cubs, Thursday, TBD

Game 6-x: at Dodgers, Oct. 21, TBD

Game 7-x: at Dodgers, Oct. 22, TBD

x- if necessary

All games broadcast on TBS

Season Series: Dodgers won, 4-2.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Cubs: CF Albert Almora (.298, 8 HRs, 46 RBI) or RF Ben Zobrist (.232, 12 HRs, 50 RBI), 3B Kris Bryant (.295, 29 HRs, 73 RBI, team-leading .409 on-base percentage and .946 OPS), 1B Anthony Rizzo (.273, team-leading 32 HRs and 109 RBI), C Wilson Contreras (.276, 21 HRs, 74 RBI), SS Addison Russell (.239, 12 HRs, 43 RBI), LF Kyle Schwarber (.211, 30 HRs, 59 RBI) or Zobrist, 2B Javier Baez (.273, 23 HRs, 75 RBI) or CF Jason Heyward (.259, 11 HRs, 59 RBI), LF Ian Happ (.253, 24 HRs, 68 RBI) or Baez

Dodgers: CF Chris Taylor (.288, 21 HRs, 72 RBI, 85 runs scored, team-leading 17 SBs), SS Corey Seager (.295, 22 HRs, 77 RBI, 85 runs scored), 3B Justin Turner (.322, 21 HRS, 71 RBI, team-leading .415 OBP and .945 OPS), 1B Cody Bellinger (.267, team-leading 39 HRs and 95 RBI, .933 OPS), C Yasmani Grandal (.247, 22 HRs, 58 RBI) or C Austin Barnes (.289, 8 HRs, 38 RBI), RF Yasiel Puig (.263, 28 HRs, 74 RBI), LF Curtis Granderson (.212, 26 HRS, 64 RBI with Mets and Dodgers) or LF Kike’ Hernandez (.215, 11 HRs, 37 RBI), 2B Logan Forsythe (.224, 6 HRs, 36 RBI) or 2B Chase Utley (.236, 8 HRs, 34 RBI)

The Cubs’ offense hibernated through the first half of the season. At the All-Star break, it ranked 18th in MLB in OPS, 28th in batting average and 20th in runs scored. Since the break, no one scored more runs or had a higher OPS and only one team in the NL hit more home runs (the Diamondbacks). That offense wasn’t seen in the NLDS – until Game 5. The Dodgers, meanwhile, scored 20 runs in their three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks. EDGE: Even

STARTING PITCHERS

Cubs: RH Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.03 ERA, 1.19 WHIP), LH Jose Quintana (11-11, 4.15 ERA, 1.22 WHIP with the White Sox and Cubs), LH Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33 ERA, 1.32 WHIP), RH Jake Arrieta (14-10, 3.53 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)

Dodgers: LH Clayton Kershaw (18-4, 2.31 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 202 Ks, 175 IP), LH Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 166, 135-2/3IP), RH Yu Darvish (10-12, 3.86 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 209 Ks, 186-2/3 IP), LH Alex Wood (16-3, 2.72 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 151 Ks, 151-2/3 IP)

For the second series in a row, the Dodgers will face a team with a rotation (and pitching staff) scrambled by a must-win game required to get here. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have benefited from a four-day break before the start of the series. “I think being able to set your rotation, not having to travel for the first two games of the series are huge advantages,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “That’s the byproduct of the season we had. … We’re in a pretty good place.” EDGE: Dodgers

BULLPEN

Cubs: RH Wade Davis (4-2, 32 saves in 33 opportunities, 1.14 WHIP, 12. 1 Ks per 9 IP), RH Pedro Strop (5-4, 2.83 ERA, 1.18 WHIP), RH Carl Edwards Jr. (5-4, 2.98 ERA, 1.01 WHIP in team-leading 73 appearances), LH Mike Montgomery (7-8, 3 saves, 3.38 ERA, 1.21 WHIP), LH Brian Duensing (1-1, 2.74 ERA, 1.22 WHIP), LH Justin Wilson (4-4, 13 saves, 3.41 ERA, 12.4 Ks per 9 IP with Tigers and Cubs), RH Hector Rondon (4-1, 4.24 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)

Dodgers: RH Kenley Jansen (5-0, 1.32 ERA, 41 saves, 1 blown save), RH Brandon Morrow (6-0, 2.06 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 10.3 Ks per 9 IP), RH Josh Fields (5-0, 2.84 ERA, 0.97, 9.5 Ks per 9 IP), RH Pedro Baez (3-6, 2.95 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 9.0 Ks per 9 IP), LH Tony Cingrani (0-0, 4.22 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 11.0 Ks per 9 IP), LH Tony Watson (7-4, 3.38 ERA, 10 saves, 1.38 WHIP with Pirates and Dodgers), RH Kenta Maeda (13-6, 4.22 ERA, 1.15 WHIP. 25 starts)

Statistically, the Dodgers had the best bullpen in baseball this season – even though it didn’t always feel that way. The emergence of Kenta Maeda as a setup man capable of dominating right-handed hitters gives Roberts another weapon to deploy in building the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen. Jansen’s ability – and willingness – to get more than three outs for Roberts could be a difference-maker in the postseason. EDGE: Dodgers

BENCH

Cubs: OF Jon Jay (.296, 2 HRs, 34 RBI), OF Leonys Martin (.232, 3 HRs, 9 RBI with Mariners and Cubs), C Alex Avila (.264, 14 HRs, 49 RBI with Tigers and Cubs)

Dodgers: C-IF Kyle Farmer (.317, .851 OPS, 10 HRs, 56 RBI in 92 minor-league games), OF Andre Ethier (.235, 2 HRs, 3 RBI in 22 games), IF-OF Tim Locastro (34 SBs in 41 attempts in Double-A and Triple-A)

Both Roberts and Cubs manager Joe Maddon will platoon liberally with significantly different lineups against left- or right-handed starting pitchers. The result for the Cubs has been remarkably similar splits – a .774 OPS vs. righties (3rd in the NL), .777 vs. lefties (tied for fourth). The Dodgers, meanwhile, have improved dramatically from last year’s historically lefty-averse lineup. EDGE: Dodgers

MANAGER

Give Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman credit for this – he knows how to hire managers. Friedman gave both Cubs manager Joe Maddon (in Tampa) and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts their first managerial jobs. Both are among the most flexible and open-minded managers in baseball. Last year’s postseason run was Roberts’ post-graduate work and his ability to process the mounds of information provided by Friedman’s front office and put it to real-word use should make him one of baseball’s best for years to come. EDGE: Even

SERIES PREDICTION

Ask almost anyone in the Dodgers’ organization why they think this year’s NLCS matchup with the Cubs will go differently than last year’s and the answer almost always sounds very much like Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi’s response – “I think we’re a better team than last year.” What they leave unsaid is that they also think they are the better team this time. They’re probably right. DODGERS IN SIX



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