Tha Sports Junkies 101

NLCS Preview: Cubs vs. Dodgers

CUBS Tlime14 and Kingtheriot2 via


The Windy City vs. City of Angels.

In April, if you were told the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers were playing for the chance to go to the World Series, you probably would have believed half of that.

Whether you chose to believe it or not, two teams with extraordinary fan bases will square off in what looks like one pretty exciting NL Championship Series.


Chicago Cubs

Keys to win: 1) Strengthen rotation and bullpen. 2) Make sure run-producers don’t go to bat with runners on base. 3) Have a lead against Kershaw


In order for the Cubs to beat the Dodgers, their pitching overall must improve. Behind Kyle Hendricks and John Lester, the rotation is questionable.

Jake Arrieta, despite having a solid year, has not followed up his Cy Young season last year as well as people say he is. And in his last start, against the San Francisco Giants in game three, went six giving up two earned runs. Though, at the time of his replacement the Cubs had the lead, two earned runs given up by your starter in a playoff game can be quite nerve-wracking.

John Lackey turned out to be the best offseason sign by the Cubs, but has yet to show just how dominate he has been in the playoffs. He had a rough time in game four. Though the Cubs bailed him out by winning and clinching the NLDS, he should give Cub fans something to be nervous about headed into the NLCS and, possibly, beyond.

The back-end Cubs bullpen is lights out, no question. But what about the middle relief? They have not lived up to the hype the rest of the team has. Though having a strong presence in the home games of the NLDS giving up a shocking zero runs, the Cubs bullpen gave up six earned runs in the two games at San Francisco.

In order for the Cubs to beat the Dodgers, they must get their pitching settled down and figure out how to keep LA’s big run producers Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Adrian Gonzalez and Chase Utley in check. To do this, the Cubs need to make sure these four guys don’t go to bat with runners on base. If they don’t make sure of this, watch out for some big innings for LA.

Finally, the Cubs need to make sure whenever Clayton Kershaw is 60 feet 6 inches away, they need a lead. When Kershaw has a lead, it’s tough to get ahead. Jumping ahead early is always an advantage, but against someone as dominate as Kershaw, it is a must.



Los Angeles Dodgers

Keys to win: 1) Fix horrible bullpen 2) Jump ahead early off starting pitchers 3)Eliminate late comebacks/Calm the Chicago crowd


In order for the Dodgers to win they must figure out what the heck is wrong with the bullpen.

All season long, the Dodgers have had a questionable bullpen. Though the well-above average skill set closer Kenley Jansen brings to the table, he has shown some signs of slowing down. Could his 51-pitch outing be the cause? Maybe. But whatever the issue is, he, and the rest of that Dodger bullpen, must figure out how to shut down the offensively fired up Cubs lineup.

The Dodgers offense must come alive and take advantage early. All Cub starting pitchers, including Hendricks and Lester, have proved to have bad outings if they struggle early. If the Dodgers can jump ahead early, along with the improvement of the bullpen, they have a solid chance of advancing to the World Series.

Finally, the Dodgers must keep Wrigley Field quite. Lately, they have had a lot to be excited about, and that may lead to be problematic for the Dodgers.

Though it may correspond with the first key for LA, the late comeback possibilities for the Cubs must be extinguished before it’s too late. When a comeback is in progress and inevitable for the Cubs, the crowd can feel it. Their loud roar can make Dodger relievers and position players nervous. Next thing you know, you’re mimicking Bill Buckner’s iconic E3 in the 1986 World Series.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, they just need to suffocate the late-inning comebacks as soon as possible. When that happens, the crowd can’t get into their heads and they’re headed to LA with a series lead, or at least tie.


Both 2016 NLCS teams have been eliminated by the New York Mets last year. Cubs in four games in the NLCS and the Dodgers in five games in the NLDS, and both are looking for redemption to prove they both belong where they are.

The Cubs are the favorite to win this series;  Dodgers are the underdogs. But when has that ever stopped the Dodgers this year? NL Wild Card: underdogs against Mets. NL Divisional Series: underdogs against Nationals.

Both teams are on fire and show no signs of slowing down. Which means this defeat will be that more heart wrenching for the losing team’s fan base. Look for a truly dominant performances from both teams. After all, their seasons are on the line.