MLB Playoffs: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs?

Manouk Akopyan

Both teams are well-rested and have strategically aligned their rotations for a playoff push. As of now, no team in baseball is hotter than the Los Angeles Dodgers, who finished September with a 17-8 record. The Dodgers are capable of being this year’s version of the 2007 Colorado Rockies, but with a different ending. The Chicago Cubs, however, can shift the entire balance of the series if they profit from their killer concoction of starting pitching and ability to out-slug the opposition. Plus, they have the home-field advantage. ?

But, the Dodgers will prove to be a formidable opponent as they have finally recuperated from an injury-depleted roster and gotten rid of the stiff that grazed out in center field. In addition to their second half resurgence, the Blue Crew will counter with timely hitting, the major’s third-best bullpen and position players that will continue playing their complimentary roles in ‘Mannywood,’ starring Manny Ramirez, the unprecedented owner for the most home runs in postseason history with 24 and holder of second place all-time for RBI’s with 64.?

The most intriguing (and decisive) match-up of this series will be game 3 in Los Angeles, which features the flame-throwing Rich Harden against Dodgers rookie Hiroki Kuroda. The Dodgers have not faced the right-hander (10-2, 2.07 ERA) this season and Kuroda pitched his best game of the season against the Cubs, at home, hurling a complete-game shutout while striking out a season-high 11 back in June. ?

Greg Maddux’s status as a starter in the series remains in limbo, putting in doubt the chance for the former Cub of 10 years to return to dominating form at Wrigley Field.?
The Cubs swept a three-game series in Chicago and won the season series 5-2, but both series were played without Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, Ramirez and Harden, pivotal players that will be on full display starting today.?

The series will be tightly-played just as it was in the regular season and will be spearheaded by baseball masterminds Joe Torre (four World Series championships/six league pennants) and Cubs skipper Lou Piniella, winner of the 1990 World Series. ?

Two of baseball’s most storied franchises have not won a World Series over a combined 120-year span. All said, the lovable losers will make it 101 years, perpetuating Cubs fans to cite every single curse ad nauseam.

Prediction: Dodgers in five.