Cubs-Dodgers NLDS Preview

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By David K.

Why I’m worried:

The Dodgers Starting Pitching:  Game one starter Derek Lowe has been ridiculous down the stretch for L.A., going 4-0 with a 0.50 ERA in his final six starts of the season.  Chad Billingsley has been steady since the middle of June, winning 11 of his final 14 decisions.  Hiroki Kuroda allowed one earned run in 15.1 innings against the Cubs this season including an 11 K complete game shut-out.  The Cubs bats have to be on, get some big hits, and take advantage of every situation when they have a man on.

Carlos Zambrano’s Health:  Which Big Z will show up in game two?  The one who was brilliant in no-hitting the Astros on September 14th? Or the one whose fatigued arm has given up at least five earned runs in five different starts since August 9th?  It’s a must that the Cubbies provide Los with some early run support and that Z keeps his emotions in check, which is like asking Megan Fox to not look attractive.  If Zambrano struggles early, don’t be surprised to see Lou Piniella turn to Jason Marquis early out of the bullpen.

Man Ram:  Since demanding his way out of Bean-town, Manny has been even better than the Dodgers could have ever imagined.  He’s hitting .396 with 17 home runs in 187 at-bats in Dodger blue.  With L.A.’s aforementioned stellar starting pitching, Manny can single-handedly provide them with all the offensive firepower they will need to beat the Cubs.  Chicago’s pitchers will have to keep the hitters ahead of Man Ram in the line-up off the bases, and make the bats behind him come up with timely hits.

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Why I’m encouraged:

Down, but never out:  My favorite attribute of this year’s Cubs team is their ability to never say never.  Chicago has shown time and time again that they can put together big innings and take control of a game when they are down with just a few swings of a bat.  A lot of this has to do with the balance of the order 1-8 as each position player can, and has, come through with a big hit this season.  Plus, they have the pinch-hitters off the bench who are capable of providing a big knock in the clutch (though I am a bit surprised Micah Hoffpauir didn’t make the playoff roster after the way he swung the bat since his September call-up.)

Dempster’s Right at Home:  There is just something about Ryan Dempster when he pitches at Wrigley Field this season.  The Cubs game one starter was 14-3 with a 2.86 ERA at home and, if needed, would be called upon to start at Wrigley in the ever important game five.  Dempster has only served up six longballs in 20 trips to the mound while in the home whites which is encouraging as he will square off against the sinker-baller Lowe who surrendered just 14 home runs this season.  If the wind is blowing in Wednesday, look for a pitcher’s duel where Dempster should hopefully have the upper hand being on his home hill.
 

Breaking the Curse:  If ever a cursed history is due to end, it has to be this year.  The Cubs have been the best and most consistent team in the National League all season.  Throughout 2008, this team has repeatedly shown that they are not your regular “loveable losers,” ready for another disappointing finish.  Sweet Lou has instilled a swagger among his players who expect to win.  There is no time like the present to eliminate the 100 year drought, and it will start Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.  I mean, it has to, right?

Prediction: Cubs in 4

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    I would agree with Dave that Dempster has been key to the Cubs this season, and will be in the postseason.

    His career year, along with Mark DeRosa’s, reminds me of Gary Gaetti, Mickey Morandini and Henry Rodriguez all having career years in ’98 propellng the Cusb to the postseason

  2. What’s the Zambrano equivalent of Megan Fox’s weirdo tattoos?

  3. that dumb pre-game thing Z does with Fontenot?????

  4. The Statue of Harold Baines says

    The Dodgers have no real proven pitchers after Lowe….I hope

  5. Cano's Cards says

    I’ll be interested to hear Jime Rome stroke off Manny some more tomorrow for that ridiculous swing and how far he crushed that home run… “MANNY BEING FREAKING MANNY”

  6. good call Cano’s… like clockwork, Rome got on his knees and blew Man Ram for his homer last night…

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