97-64 NL Central Champs by 7.5 games. Best Record in NL by 5.5 games. 2nd best record in baseball.
The year that was:
To put it frankly the Cubs kicked ass and took names. They had a 30 run lead in run differential, they had the best offense in the NL and the 2nd best pitching staff. They dominated at home, and ended up the 3rd best road team in baseball. They proved no lead was safe with amazing comebacks against Colorado and Milwaukee. They proved you could swap your closer and former ace and be better off. They proved that you can win with other people's scraps (Reed and Edmonds). That a rookie could handle a pitching staff. They had a no hitter, and epic HRs and epic HRs and epic HRs. They had a number 3 starter loses his mind, and still didn't miss a beat. They celebrated 60 years of WGN in a great way. They traded for an ace when they already had a couple.
They were the best team in the league. And it wasn't close.
The Dodgers have the worst record of any playoff team at 84-78. They're 2-5 against the Cubs this year, including a Wrigley sweep. They've been read hot since having an 8 game losing streak in late August. Their pitching is their strong suit, with the best ERA in the NL. The offense isn't scary other than Manny Ramirez.
Game 1: Ryan Dempster vs. Derrek Lowe. Ryan Dempster and his 14-3 home record needs very little introduction. Many people thought he would wear down as the season went on, well he's had a 2.57 ERA since the break. He's faced the Dodgers twice this year, a 7 IP 1 R W on May 26th and a 5.1 3 R ND on June 5th. Dodgers' notables vs. Dempster:
- Jeff Kent 9-33 HR
- Rafeal Furcal 6-28 3 2b
- Andre Either 5-11 HR
- Manny Ramirez 1-1 2b
Lowe has won 6 out of his last 7 decisions and has a .59 ERA in September. He's beat the Cubs and thrown a no decison against them this year, both going 7 IP. Cubs notables vs. Lowe:
- Alfonso Soriano 13-53 3 HR
- Derrek Lee 11-28 HR
- Aramis Ramirez 2-13
- Jim Edmonds 5-30 HR
- Mike Fontenot 3-5 2b
Game 2: Carlos Zambrano vs. Chad Billingsley. Carlos hasn't been right since the no hitter, but he's Carlos Zambrano and I have no doubt that he will step up his game like he did in Game 1 last season. He has one gem and one tanker against the Dodgers. Notables against Carlos:
- Jeff Kent 8-33 8 K
- Rafeal Furcal 3-23
- Russel Martin 8-13 HR
- Matt Kemp 3-6 HR
- Manny Ramirez 0-3
Billingsley has been a much worse pitcher on the road (6-6 3.40 ERA), but still pretty good. He's a high strikeout guy, who has given up 6 R in 11 IP against the Cubs this year. Notables against him:
Game 3: Rich Harden vs. Hiroki Kuroda. Harden has been in a word: unhittable. In his 12 starts with the Cubs he's given up 2 or fewer hits in more than half of them and has given up more than 2 ER only once. The leash will be off, and he will most likely go deep into the game. Notables vs. Harden:
- Manny Ramirez 3-11 3 HR
- Casey Blake 0-8 5 K
Kuroda has a 3-8 road record, which is great cause the Cubs face him in Dodger stadium where he's 6-2. He's 1-1 against the Cubs with 2 pretty good starts. He has a 4.42 ERA since the break. Notables against him:
- Alfonso Soriano 3-7
- Derrek Lee 2-6
- Geovany Soto 1-3 2b.
Game 4: Ted Lilly vs. Greg Maddux/Derrek Lowe on short rest. If Necessary Lilly has won his last 4 starts, and has been great down the stretch, a far cry from his early season woes. He didn't face the Dodgers, but here's how their players do against him:
- Manny Ramirez 11-42 4 HR
- Casey Blake 4-21 HR
- Jeff Kent 3-9 HR
- Rafeal Furcal 1-8 HR
The former Cub could end his career against the team he broke in with. He's faced the Cubs twice on the season: a gem and a dud, but both those starts were with the Padres. He's only 2-4 with the Dodgers along with a ERA over 5. Notables:
- Derrek Lee 14-59 HR
- Jim Edmonds 11-42 2 HRs
- Alfonso Soriano 4-12
- Aramis Ramirez 6-21
Game 5: Ryan Dempster vs. Derrek Lowe/Chad Billingsley. If Necessary.
Predictions: The Cubs have proved all season long that they are the top team in the NL. They come out and continue with that. They sweep. All 3 starters get wins. Game one is a pitcher's duel, game 2 the Cubs blow them out, then game 3 they win another pitcher's duel. Aramis Ramirez has a great series, driving in 5. They will then face the Phillies, who will have swept the Brewers.