When the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs met in the 2016 National League Championship Series, it marked only the third postseason meeting between the historic franchises in MLB history.
Most anticipated it would be the start of the Dodgers and Cubs facing each other in the postseason with more frequency, particularly after they both reached the NLCS in 2017. The Dodgers got revenge, winning the NL pennant in a five-game lopsided series.
When L.A. reached the NLCS in 2018 for a third year in a row, it was for a matchup with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs lost the NL Wild Card Game to the Colorado Rockies, who then fell to the Brewers.
Heading into the 2019 season, the Dodgers were projected as a heavy favorite to again reach the NLCS, while forecasts had the Cubs finishing behind the Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.
When asked about the prospect of a rivalry between the teams, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was initially hesitant to call it such, but went on to explain why it can be considered one, via SportsNet LA:
“That’s fair, but with rivalry, a lot of it comes with geography. But I think if you look at from the front offices, they’re very aligned. I think if you look at Theo and Jed, and you talk about Andrew and Farhan when he was here, the way the industry respect those guys as far as very cutting-edge, forward-thinking guys. And then you look at the way Joe manages his club, two great cities, markets, won a lot of baseball games. I think that kind of put us against one another. And obviously we’ve played some very meaningful games these past few years. So, Dodgers-Cubs, it’s a good rivalry. I like it.”
In March 2018, former Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaid denounced the Cubs being a rival, in large part because the teams play in separate divisions. Contrary to to Zaidi’s viewpoint, Cubs owner Todd Ricketts stated he believes the Dodgers are the Cubs’ biggest “nemesis” in capturing another World Series championship.
Adding another layer to matters are the Cubs’ signings of Brandon Morrow and Yu Darvish. Though, both right-handers have been marred by injuries since leaving the Dodgers in free agency.
Time — and another potential October matchup — will ultimately tell if the Cubs and Dodgers become bonafide rivals. For now, similarities in their organizational approach and recent string of success will have to be all the parallels.
Since 2015, Chicago (first) and L.A. (second) have the best records in the NL.