One of the better National League rivalries in recent seasons has been the constant one-upmanship between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers. Cubs owner Todd Ricketts went so far as to refer to Los Angeles as Chicago’s “nemesis”.
Both organizations share similar philosophies and have squared off against each other in back-to-back NL Championship Series, with each team advancing to the Fall Classic during that span.
The Dodgers most recently knocked off the defending World Series champions in five games last season. Los Angeles’ pitching staff outmatched Chicago’s offense and tallied 53 strikeouts during the matchup.
The Dodgers exposed the Cubs’ weakness of swinging at high pitches out of the strike zone. But for the 2018 season, Kris Bryant believes the Cubs will turn the page and have a better approach against the strategy going forward, via Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune:
“A pitch up looks good to hit, but it’s tough to square up,” Kris Bryant said. “I felt we could get better at it. We know how to approach the Dodgers this year because that’s what they do. The book’s out, and there’s no secret anymore.”
The Dodgers haven’t been as reliant on elevated fastballs this season when compared to last. Some of that can be explained by changes to their pitching staff.
Setup man Brandon Morrow played a major role in helping the Dodgers eliminate the Cubs in the NLCS. He consistently utilized the high fastball as one of his go-to pitches for accumulating strikeouts, and punched out seven batters across 4.2 innings without allowing a run.
Over the offseason, Morrow, along with Yu Darvish, switched sides in the rivalry and joined the Cubs. Those signings will further spice things up, though Darvish won’t pitch in the series at Wrigley Field because he remains on the disabled list.
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