Though the Dodgers lead their division with a 68-55 record as of Monday 22nd August, they sit only half a game ahead of the San Francisco Giants. Should they come in second in the division, they could find themselves missing out on a wildcard berth if the Cardinals or Marlins go on a run. They've faced the Cubs in only one series in 2016, losing three of four at Wrigley Field. The additions of pitcher Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick should bolster their lineup and provide much-needed depth for the playoffs. However, the loss of Brandon McCarthy, Clayton Kershaw, and Hill to the disabled list has the team looking for answers in their rotation. Luckily, heavy hitters like Adrian Gonzalez and rookie sensation Corey Seager have given Los Angeles a power source all season long.
The Cubs, just like everyone predicted, have been the best team in baseball in 2016. Not only are they a ridiculous 33 games over .500, but they've absolutely dominated the National League. They lead the Cardinals by 12 and the Pirates by 15 in the NL Central. Normally this is one of the toughest and most hotly contested divisions in baseball, but this year the Cubbies are running away with it. They've overcome the loss of Kyle Schwarber and now have an elite bullpen with Aroldis Chapmen now closing in Chicago. Any team that has an infield including Ben Zobrist, Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant is a force to be reckoned with. They'll look to continue their strong play against the Dodgers on Friday, though this time on the road.
For the Dodgers, it will be youngster Julio Urias taking the mound against the red-hot Cubs. Urias, a rookie, has pitched well this year, accumulating a 4-2 record and a 3.95 ERA in his first 13 starts. He’s earned the win in his last three starts, two of those coming at home. However, Urias got pounded last time he faced the Cubs, allowing five runs on eight hits in five innings. He eventually took the 7-2 loss at Wrigley Field. Even so, his ERA has dropped form a 4.95 mark in the first half to a 2.18 in the second, so he might fare better this time around against Chicago.
Mike Montgomery, a seldom-used starter acquired from the Seattle Mariners in mid-July, will make the start for the Cubs in Los Angeles. He’s 1-1 with Chicago, though they've won five of his eight starts. He hasn’t faced the Dodgers yet this season, but his ERA has ballooned to 3.50 since the second half began. Montgomery is normally a relief pitcher, but he’s been called on to make the start since the Cubs’ John Lackey was recently sent to the DL.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Though Montgomery doesn’t have much experience starting, the Cubs are too hot to pick against right now. Chicago takes advantage of Urias’s lack of experience once again and wins 8-3.