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Can these Cubs really contend with the dominating Dodgers?

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Perhaps Saturday night will be a difference-maker for the Chicago Cubs as they finally got the performance they expected — and needed — when they signed Yu Darvish away from the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 2017 World Series. Darvish kept his old team in check while striking out 10 over seven innings in his first start in Dodger Stadium since a forgettable end to that Fall Classic.

Despite the win, the question of National League supremacy still has to be considered as the teams prepare for the series finale on Sunday Night Baseball: How much better are the Dodgers than one of their main NL rivals? The season to date tells us the Cubs still have a lot of catching up to do.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“They always seem to have good at-bats, a good starting rotation and a good closer,” third baseman Kris Bryant said over the weekend, despite Kenley Jansen blowing the save on Saturday. “They seem like the same team we’ve played the last couple years, the same faces — some guys that have really stepped up. They’re going to be a big competition for us.”
“When you go into a series and you think you can gain advantage by matching up against their better hitters, you don’t,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after his team lost the first two games of this series. “They have a really nice balance.”4

And therein lies the difference from those Dodgers of 2016. Sure, their bullpen isn’t as good as it was back then, but that’s true all over baseball. What they feature now is a left-handed hitting attack that can do damage against anyone on the mound.

“Their lefties hit lefties,” Maddon said. “That’s one thing that really stands out. … If their lefties were more pedestrian, they would be. That’s what looks different to me. They do a nice job of the yin and the yang.”

For example, Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy both went deep off Thursday’s starter, Jon Lester, helping erase a 3-0 deficit, turning the game into a 7-3 victory for the home team. Lefties hitting home runs off of Lester isn’t exactly an everyday occurrence.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“They have lefties that have good approaches against lefties,” Lester stated after the loss. “These guys used to not handle lefties very well and they’ve made that adjustment, whatever it is.”

It’s true. It wasn’t that long ago a team could stack its staff with left-handed pitchers when they were preparing to play the Dodgers, and usually good results would follow. Los Angeles had a .622 OPS against lefties in 2016 — worst in the majors — but this year, it’s .775 going into Sunday night.

Now, it’s not to say the Cubs aren’t a good offensive team — Anthony Rizzo slugged that ninth inning go-ahead home run on Saturday off Jansen — but they haven’t taken their game to higher levels in the same way that the Dodgers have. The numbers don’t say so and neither does the eye test.

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