While the ALCS has two new teams this year, the NLCS is a rematch of the 2016 matchup between the Cubs and Dodgers – which was won by Chicago. But it’s L.A. that has home-field advantage and is the Sports Interaction series favourite this time around.
Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Game 1: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET Where: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Series Line: Dodgers -190, Cubs +165
Cubs vs. Dodgers Recent History
The Cubs finished with the best record in the majors last regular season and so were awarded home-field advantage in the NLCS against the Dodgers. Chicago won Game 1, dropped the next two without scoring a run but then won the final three by a combined score of 23-6 to win the franchise’s first pennant since 1945.
This regular season, Chicago took two of three at home vs. the Dodgers from April 10-13 and then L.A. swept three at home from May 26-28. Those were so early in the season, it’s hard to take much from the results. Both clubs made big trade acquisitions around the deadline, for example, with Chicago landing starting pitcher Jose Quintana from the White Sox and the Dodgers adding a starter in Yu Darvish from Texas.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Want proof that MLB’s regular season means very little? Sure, it’s nice to have home-field advantage in a series, but the Dodgers were 8-11 vs. Arizona during the year and lost the final six meetings. So, naturally, Los Angeles swept out its NL West rival in the Division Series. None of the games were ever in doubt as the Dodgers outscored the Diamondbacks a combined 20-11. Justin Turner, who finished second in the NL with a .322 batting average, hit .462 against Arizona with a homer and five RBIs. Yasiel Puig was at .455 with four RBIs. L.A. hit .298 as a team and held one of the better offenses in baseball to a .189 average with 28 strikeouts.
This looks more like the Dodgers team that was 91-36 at one point and threatening the MLB single-season record for victories than the one that somehow lost 11 straight games in September. The only worry here for the Dodgers is rust in being off since Monday, but their pitching is set up just as they want it with ace and three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw set for Game 1.
How much will the Cubs have left in the tank after one of the wildest postseason games in MLB history? They beat the Nationals 9-8 in D.C. on Wednesday night to become the first reigning World Series champions to reach a consecutive LCS since the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012. The last team to repeat as NL champion was Philadelphia in 2008-09, beating the Dodgers both times. The Cubs had scored just eight runs in the first four games against Washington before Wednesday, and they scored in just about every way imaginable in Game 5.
The problem is that since Tuesday, Chicago has used all four of its top starting pitchers so Manager Joe Maddon will have an interesting juggling act for Games 1-2 in L.A. It won’t matter which pitchers Maddon uses if the Cubbies don’t start hitting. Javier Baez was 0-for-14 in the Nationals series. Kris Bryant was 4-for-20 with a whopping 10 strikeouts. Anthony Rizzo was also 4-for-20. As a team, the Cubs hit .180.
Cubs vs. Dodgers Series Prediction
No NL team has repeated as World Series champion since the mid-1970s. That continues. Dodgers in six.