Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers moving in opposite directions

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LOS ANGELES — With their two finest beginning pitchers poised to throw, the Chicago Cubs limp right into a four-game collection with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the staff that beat them within the Nationwide League Championship Collection final October.

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However earlier than Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks get to pitch for the Cubs, 23-year-old rookie Duane Underwood (2012, second spherical) will make his main league debut at Dodger Stadium on Monday, making an attempt to assist the Cubs finish a four-game skid. All 4 losses got here by the hands of the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend, whereas the Dodgers had been concerned in a sweep as effectively, taking down the lowly Mets in New York.

The Cubs tried to say all the suitable issues after dropping to the Reds, together with giving some respect to their opponent whereas reminding everybody of current historical past.

“We went Zero-6 on a highway journey final 12 months,” supervisor Joe Maddon stated. “It is referred to as baseball. It is below the class of baseball, however when you’re saying that, do not denigrate Cincinnati. That is an improved ballclub, and their pitching is approach improved.”

Just like the Reds, the Dodgers are a lot improved after a tough April. Since starting the season 12-16, the Dodgers are 29-22. Final week in Chicago, the Cubs took two out of three from Los Angeles in a tightly contested collection, not in contrast to the previous two playoff matchups between the groups. The Cubs beat the Dodgers in 2016 en path to their historic World Collection championship, however they ran out of gasoline towards Los Angeles pitching final October, falling in 5 video games.

Each side say they might see a Spherical three between the groups this October, however they’ve a number of work to do earlier than that may occur. It is a reminder that attending to the highest of the mountain is hard, however staying there will be even more durable. Simply ask Maddon after his staff was swept by the last-place staff within the NL Central.

Joe Maddon stated the Cubs “need to go the check of staying collectively” after dropping 4 in a row to the last-place Reds. David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports activities

“You possibly can’t be afraid to lose to win,” he stated. “It occurs yearly. That is once you actually need to maintain the group collectively and ensure you adhere to what you imagine in. That is the check. It’s a must to go the check of staying collectively.”

One distinction between the Dodgers and Cubs is that Chicago has its championship, whereas Los Angeles remains to be making an attempt to win one with its present group of gamers, led by the perfect pitcher of his technology, Clayton Kershaw, who makes his first residence begin Thursday since coming off the disabled listing.

Whereas Underwood makes his debut, Yu Darvish, whom the Cubs signed away from the Dodgers this offseason, will start a rehab stint within the minors as he recovers from a triceps damage. Cubs star Kris Bryant is anticipated again within the collection after lacking time with a shoulder ailment. Each groups are coping with accidents, however that will not be an excuse come September. Their payrolls and rosters will not enable for it. And each groups have too many star gamers to go meekly into the night time.

“It is not simply as much as us,” Bryant stated when requested if he and Anthony Rizzo want to hold the staff. “There’s actually not strain on us, as a result of our staff is so dang good that it is nearly relieving that you do not have to really feel that, which is a good factor.”

Kershaw and Justin Turner would possibly really feel the identical approach, because the Dodgers have change into a extra full staff over the previous few years, whereas the resurgence of Matt Kemp has been a nice shock.

As occurs so usually in baseball earlier than a collection begins, one staff is feeling good about itself whereas the opposite is looking for some consistency. Maddon is preaching what you’d anticipate after getting swept: calmness.

“We beat the Dodgers two out of three [last week] and we’re the perfect staff for the reason that 1927 Yankees,” he stated over the weekend. “Then Cincinnati beats us … and swiftly it is doom and gloom. I can not reside my life that approach.”

Neither staff needs to experience the curler coaster, however with elevated expectations for each organizations, it is the brand new regular as a June collection in Los Angeles is sure to really feel like one in October.

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