It might seem like a grind at times, but Walker Buehler continues to see positive results on the mound for the surging Los Angeles Dodgers.
Buehler will look to help the visiting Dodgers to a sixth straight win and series sweep of the Cubs, who have dropped four in a row, on Sunday night.
A Sunday afternoon roster move will keep Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman out of the start, with left-hander Justin Steele getting the call against the Dodgers instead. Stroman was placed on the injured list for undisclosed reasons.
After going 1-1 with a 4.02 ERA in his first three 2022 starts, Buehler (3-1, 2.12 ERA) has thrown 14 scoreless innings to win his past two. Following his complete-game, three-hit, 10-strikeout performance at Arizona on April 25, the right-hander opened May by yielding six hits, but no runs, over five innings in Los Angeles’ 6-3 home win over Detroit last Sunday.
“To still manage an outing, to up some zeroes, get him back on line for his next start — that’s what top-end guys do,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Buehler, who won a career-high 16 games in 2021.
Buehler is 0-1 in four regular-season starts against the Cubs, but he has a 2.92 ERA in those outings. He might have a good chance to lower that ERA against a Chicago club that was outscored 13-2 while being swept in Saturday’s split doubleheader.
Losers in 13 of 16 since starting 6-4, the Cubs have been outscored 45-11 during their current 1-7 rut.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, have outscored their opponents 31-7 while going 5-0 in May. This is the second time they’ve won at least five straight games this season.
Stroman finally seemed to be pitching like the guy the Cubs gave $71 million over three years to during the offseason. He had a 1.38 ERA over his last two outings, but he will hit pause for the time being.
Steele (1-3, 5.50) will make his sixth start of the season and the 15th of his career, all over the past two seasons. He last started April 30, giving up four runs (two earned) over three innings in a 9-1 road loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Steele did face the Dodgers last season, but just for a scoreless inning on May 4 when he had two strikeouts. It ended up being his first career victory, though.
The loss of Stroman comes at an inopportune time for the Cubs, who have been searching for rotation stability. Left-hander Drew Smyly started Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Dodgers after eight days off, while on the bereavement list, and gave up three runs (two earned) over 4 1/3 innings. But Los Angeles won Game 1 by a 7-0 score and won Game 2 by a 6-2 count.
“We have the mindset that we’re going to lead this team to a victory, and go pitch well and do our job,” Smyly said about the Cubs’ starters. “It takes a lot to win a game. They’re never easy. I think we’re throwing the ball pretty well.”
The Dodgers’ Mookie Betts is back to looking like an All-Star again following a slow start. Betts delivered a three-run double and two-run homer during the Dodgers’ Game 2 victory Saturday.
Betts is batting .387 (12-for-31) with three home runs and eight RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.
Chicago’s Nico Hoerner has never faced Buehler, but he is one of the few Cubs striking the ball by batting .316 during a five-game hitting streak.
It’s uncertain if the Cubs’ Patrick Wisdom will miss time after he exited Saturday’s nightcap with an ankle issue.
–Field Level Media