After earning a series victory against the arch rival San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Dodgers enter their weekend set against the Chicago Cubs with a two-game lead in the National League West division.
Since Clayton Kershaw last pitched June 26, the Cubs (33-19) and Dodgers (30-20) own the top records in all of baseball. Chicago enters a Major League-best 81-45 this season, riding a three-game winning streak and 8-2 in their last 10 games.
Friday’s matchup has an added layer of intrigue as Carlos Ruiz makes his Dodgers debut. He was acquired Thursday in a trade that sent A.J. Ellis and Minor League pitcher Tommy Bergjans to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Ruiz is batting .261/.368/.352 with six doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI in 48 games this season. Included in that is a .250/.421/.409 slash line against left-handed pitching.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts cited Ruiz’s ability to hit southpaws as reason to move forward with the trade.
Ruiz will catch Bud Norris, who is looking to overcome a rough outing. Norris pitched twice during the series against the Cincinnati Reds, starting on Aug. 19, and throwing two-thirds of an inning out of the bullpen three days later.
Norris lasted just 3.2 innings in the start, allowing six runs on seven hits and walking four. He said after the loss he never felt comfortable on the mound as a chunk of clay was missing, but also refused to use that as an excuse.
The first five Reds hitters all reached and Cincinnati held a 3-0 lead after the opening frame. Norris allowed one run on two hits in the relief appearance at Great American Ball Park.
The 31-year-old has made 12 career appearances (11 starts) against the Cubs, including one start this season while still with the Atlanta Braves. Norris fared well in the outing at Turner Field, holding Chicago to one run on four hits and collecting four strikeouts over seven innings.
Overall, Norris is 5-5 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.40 WHIP against the Cubs. In nine games (seven starts) with the Dodgers, he’s 3-3 with a 5.67 ERA, 4.65 FIP, and 1.47 WHIP. He’s opposed by Mike Montgomery, who makes just his fourth start of the season, and second with the Cubs.
Including time with the Seattle Mariners, the southpaw is 4-5 with a 2.41 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 40 games. Three of his last 10 appearances have come as a starter. Montgomery has yet to face the Dodgers in his brief career.
Though, Josh Reddick, who starts in right field and bats seventh, is 1-for-2 with an RBI double against the 27-year-old lefty.
Brock Stewart was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City and stashed in the bullpen as a long reliever.
LF: Howie Kendrick
SS: Corey Seager
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
CF: Kiké Hernandez
C: Carlos Ruiz
RF: Josh Reddick
2B: Chase Utley
P: Bud Norris
CF: Dexter Fowler
3B: Kris Bryant
1B: Anthony Rizzo
2B: Ben Zobrist
SS: Addison Russell
RF: Jason Heyward
LF: Jorge Soler
C: Miguel Montero
P: Mike Montgomery