Frederick Krauss, Ph.D.
Another day, another Cubs win. The Cubs have shown during their six game win streak that they can once again score runs. On Monday they showed they can also win a game with few runs even when their starter leaves after two innings. The Cubs opened their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 2-0 win despite losing pitcher Jason Hammel in the third inning due to cramping. Moreover, the Cubs pitchers—Hammel, Travis Wood, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon—combined for a one-hitter. The Cubs got both of their runs in the fifth inning, which was started by Ben Zobrist who singled and extended his hitting streak to 16 games. Cubs good fortune continues tonight as they send Jake Arrieta to the mound to extend the team’s win streak to seven.
Arrieta (9-0, 1.72 ERA) is looking to improve to 10-0 as he faces the Dodgers for the first time since he no-hit them on August 30, 2015. In his last game, Arrieta had an uncharacteristic outing as he gave up four earned runs against the St. Louis Cardinals including one home run in just five innings pitched. Still, he got the win, which also extended the Cubs win streak when Arrieta pitches to 23 games. Arrieta and the Cubs will go for the major league record of 24 straight wins tonight.
The Dodgers will counter with their big off-season free agent acquisition Scott Kazmir (4-3, 4.84 ERA). The left hander has performed unevenly this season often exchanging wins and losses. He has won two out of his last three starts; however, in his no-decision he gave up five earned runs and two home runs. Kazmir has improved his strikeout rate over nine innings this year as it is 9.4, which are up from 7.6 from last season. His walks per nine innings has gone up as well, as last year he walked 2.9 batters over nine innings and this year is 3.4 batters.
Outlook: As always, when Jake Arrieta starts the game is about him. If he pitches his game the opposition doesn’t have much of a chance. Arrieta struggled a bit last game, but hopefully he got that out of his system. Batters are hitting .250 against Kazmir and with his high walk rate the Cubs should be able to get on base to generate some runs. Overall, The Cubs hitters should be able to put up enough runs against Kazmir to give Arrieta the small cushion he needs to get the win.