Series Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles (10-10) at Chicago Cubs of Chicago (9-9)

Team Overview

This is where I would normally talk about what the team’s done, but anything that the Dodgers have acoomplished this year is overshadowed by the legal battle that is shaking up between the McCourts and MLB. It’s going to be a big mess. If MLB does take over, I hope that they appoint current MLB VP of operations Kim Ng to run the team. Not only would it be a slam dunk PR move for MLB, but Ng is intimitely familiar with the Dodgers organization having worked there as an assistant GM from 2001 until earlier this year.

Dodgers NL Ranks:

wOBA: .292 (15th)
UZR: 1.3 (7th)
DRS: -3 (7th)
SP FIP: 4.17 (10th)
SP xFIP: 3.74 (8th)
RP FIP: 5.57 (16th)
RP xFIP: 4.56 (16th)

Batters

Player wOBA ZiPS wOBA
SS Jamey Carroll .315 .304
3B Casey Blake .348 .317
RF Andre Ethier .426 .370
CF Matt Kemp .494 .355
2B Juan Uribe .250 .317
1B James Loney .181 .318
LF Gerald Sands .213 .330
C Rod Barajas .273 .311

The Dodgers offense is pretty much the poor man’s Brewers offense. There are two guys you have to worry about, then a whole lot of nothing. And for what it’s worth Ethier is a player I habitually undervalue. He’s a butcher on defense and I always think he’s a much lousier hitter than he actually is (in my head he’s similar to Jacque Jones). Kemp has obviously been hitting out of his mind. Their starting SS, Rafael Furcal, had a career year last year after it looked like his career was on the rocks. He got off to a poor start this year and is on the DL with a broken thumb.

Pitchers

ERA FIP ZiPS FIP
LHP Clayton Kershaw 2.96 3.38 3.15
RHP Chad Billingsley 4.91 3.27 3.12
LHP Ted Lilly 4.09 3.91 3.62
RHP Hiroki Kuroda 3.33 4.94 3.53
RHP Jon Garland 4.15 4.59 4.33
RHP Jonathon Broxton 6.14 6.46 2.76
RHP Matt Guerrier 0.00 2.59 4.06

The Dodgers have assembled a great pitching staff. If Colletti can find some hitting to go with it they’ll keep up their string of NL West titles, but it looks like it’s not going to happen this year.

Pitching Probables

(ERA, FIP, xFIP, ZiPS FIP in parens)

Friday: Chad Billingsley, RHP (4.91, 3.24, 3.12, 3.10) vs Casey Coleman, RHP (4.22, 6.20, 5.84, 4.86), 1:20 PM CT

The Cubs might as well start Koyie in this game, given the size of the mismatch. We had a long argument in the comments whether or not Coleman is worth a damn or not. At the time I didn’t care if he ended up with the 5th starter role, as it was what I was pushing for at the start of the season. Coleman was decent after being called up last season, but as Doogolas pointed out he was lucky with his HR rate. This year he’s been more unlucky (and only pitched 10 innings), but I don’t really care about those numbers. What’s more important to me is his pathetic strikeout rate in AAA and his brief time in the majors. If you’re going to strike out less than 5 per 9 you need to either get a ton of ground balls or walk less batters. Or prevent home runs. Maybe Coleman has that skill, I don’t know – most of the decent FIPs he posted in the minors were more a factor of his lower than usual HR/9.

Not a lot to say about Billingsley exceptt that he should crush the Cubs today. He had a bizarre/injured start to the season two years ago that he bounced back so well from it’s hard to even tell from his numbers. He signed a 3/35 extension through the 2014 season in spring training that should be a fantastic deal for LA.

Saturday: Ted Lilly, LHP (4.09, 3.88, 4.50, 3.62) vs Ryan Dempster, RHP (6.84, 4.61, 3.32, 3.78), 12:05 PM CT

I love this matchup. Along with Mark DeRosa these two pitchers were more or less the popular faces of the late 00s playoff teams. The only question is how many standing ovations Lilly will get (laughing). Lilly succeeded in his move to Wrigley against expectations, and unless the wind is blowing out he should do well again in this start. One of the nice things about Lilly was that it seemed to me that he was the kind of high-variance pitcher who a team would rather have than a consistent one. Lilly would seemingly rattle off two or three great starts in a row, then get absolutely shelled in a single start to make his stat line look average-ish over the span. Hopefully the Cubs catch him on a bad day, and Dempster’s HR luck evens out at the same time.

Sunday: Hiroki Kuroda, RHP (3.33, 4.90, 3.79, 3.49) vs Carlos Zambrano, RHP (4.21, 3.91, 3.80, 3.74), 1:20 PM CT 

It feels like Kuroda has always had the Cubs number, though a lot of that is just me remembering how he shut down the Cubs in the 2008 NLDS. He’s been quite unlucky with HRs this year but it hasn’t burned him very much. He gets a ton of ground balls but surprisingly has always had a good BABIP throughout his career.

Z had his best game of the season last time out and Z with his good stuff is always fun to watch. It’s too bad the rest of the game was such a snoozer. Batters slugged only .181 against him that night. More importantly, he got the ground balls that had been missing from his previous starts.

Prediction

I think the Dodgers are probably the slightly better team, but I’ll take the Cubs to win both of the weekend games anyway.

berselius

About berselius

How appropriate. You fight like a cow.

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