Takeaways From the Cubs/Dodgers Series

The best parts of the end of the baseball season are the series between contending teams: teams that need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, and teams that are likely to see each other again in the postseason. We got that kind of treat this past weekend, when the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers squared off in a three-game series. So what did we learn from watching these contenders go at it?

The Dodgers Aren't Done Yet

The Dodgers had been struggling since the All Star Break — they're basically a .500 team since the Mid-Summer Classic. The were unceremoniously swept out of Houston in late August before taking three from the putrid Cincinnati Reds, and they came home to face the Cubs with a cloud hanging over the organization.

The Dodgers didn't dominate the Cubs, but they did take the series two games to three. That marks only the second time since the break that the Dodgers have won a series from a likely playoff team (the other time was against the Angels). If they can keep that momentum up against the Giants (and so far they have, winning game one of that series), they can regain their identity as a winning squad and lock up their division for good.

Jake Arrieta is For Real

The Dodgers may have taken the first two games of this series, but the Cubs took the third one in style. The Cubs took the game 2-0 behind Jake Arrieta's incredible no-hitter.

After the game, the Dodgers complained that a play scored as an error should have been a hit, but it doesn't really matter: that call could have gone either way, and it's little more than a footnote to Arrieta's dominance. The no-hitter is the latest accomplishment in a season that has seen Arrieta record a 2.11 ERA and a .940 WHIP.

That's a huge transformation for Jake Arrieta. The Arrieta we remember from the Baltimore Orioles had a 5.47 career ERA. With the Cubs, he's been a whole different pitcher. At 29, Arrieta is proving that it's better to get good late than never. This latest performance proves that he isn't going to regress any time soon.

The Dodgers' Offense is Weak

What is going on with the Dodgers' hitters? With all due respect to Arrieta's stunning performance, his no-hitter was the second against the Dodgers in a 10-day span. That's an embarrassing stat that hasn't happened since 1923. The Dodgers' bullpen woes have been notorious since the All-Star Break, but with top-notch starting pitching and this lineup, their relievers shouldn't have to be in that many close games in the first place (and in the first half, when the Dodgers were great, they weren't).

Yasiel Puig is on the DL, but the rest of the squad needs to start swinging the bat better and making fewer errors on the basepaths, a team weakness that keeps eliminating RBI opportunities. If the Dodgers can't start hitting soon, this series win against the Cubs will be a cheerful footnote to an otherwise lost season.

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