The Chicago Cubs enter the postseason in the unfamiliar position of National League favorites. With the quality of both their starting pitching and bullpen, combined with the variety of ways in which they can score runs, the Cubs can make an impressive claim as the most complete team in all of baseball. But Manny Ramirez has provided a spark for the Dodgers that hasn't been seen by their franchise since Orel Hershiser. Catcher: Geovany Soto has an .868 OPS compared to .781 for Russell Martin. Soto faded a little bit, but Martin has been one of the only Dodgers to not hit better with Manny. Edge: Cubs First Base: James Loney's slugging was down over 100 points from 2007 this season, and he was especially brutal in September, hitting .209/.229/.297. Derrek Lee still isn't the MVP candidate of 2005 when he slugged .662, but he's still a solid middle of the order threat. Edge: Cubs Second Base: Jeff Kent will be relegated to pinch hitting duties, and Blake DeWitt will be sent out in his stead. He has been particularly effective of late, hitting for an OPS of .872 in September. Mark DeRosa has had a career year with his .481 slugging percentage being the best to date. He has been even better down the stretch and is a significantly better hitter at Wrigley (.918) than he is on the road (.795)even though he has hit three homers in 37 at bats at Dodger Stadium. Edge: Cubs Shortstop: Ryan Theriot has a .307 batting average but is slugging just .359. He's a situational hitter in the two hole that facilitates the real difference makers. Angel Berroa is barely a passable hitter, and unless Rafael Furcal can play like he was before he got hurt, this position of weakness for the Cubs still gives them a nice edge. Edge: Cubs Third Base: Casey Blake has hit 10 homers in Dodger Blue, but his .773 OPS since the trade is more than 100 points off Aramis Ramirez's .898. Ramirez also is hitting extremely well leading into the postseason, with a 1.389 OPS over his past nine games. Edge: Cubs Left Field: The edge enjoyed by the Cubs in the infield can be almost entirely wiped out by the presence of Manny Ramirez in the middle of the Dodgers' lineup. Depending on how the Cubs decide to pitch to Manny, he can have a level of impact not only during his own at bats but also with those of the players around him that we haven't seen in the postseason since 2002 when Barry Bonds carried a very ordinary Giants' lineup. He is hitting .396/.489/.743 during his 229 trips to the plate with the Dodgers. Alfonso Soriano, with the exception of the Seattle series in 2001 and Minnesota series in 2003, has had very modest success in the postseason, hitting .225/.279/.319 in 160 at bats. Edge: Dodgers Center Field: Jim Edmonds has been an entirely different player since joining the Cubs, having his best OBP (.369) and SLG (.568) pretty much since 2004 when he finished 5th in MVP voting. He has 13 postseason homers in 220 at bats and generally has been a consistent and clutch performer in October. But Matt Kemp is a young talent that can really have his first signature performance in this series, especially in Game 2 against Ted Lilly. Kemp is a significantly better hitter against southpaws, hitting for an OPS of .989 compared to .725 against righties. Edge: Dodgers Right Field: Kosuke Fukudome had a .738 OPS in his first season in the States, which is far from ideal for a corner outfielder. He's hit just .217/.314/.326 in the second half, and the .915 OPS of April might as well count for a whole different season because he is not even close to being that kind of hitter right now. Andre Ethier took another step forward as a pure hitter while also increasing his power numbers, hitting 20 homers with 38 doubles and five triples and getting his slugging percentage up to .510. He has been helped significantly by Ramirez as he's hitting .335/.409/.583 in the second half. Edge: Dodgers Bench: The Dodgers practically have a whole other team on the bench in Furcal, Jeff Kent, Nomar Garciaparra, nd Juan Pierre. It might be a bench better suited for 2003 than 2008, but they all have a ton of postseason experience and can be counted on to be productive at bats. Beyond Reed Johnson, the depth of the Cubs' pinch hitters might as well be Carlos Zambrano, who has a 1.000 OPS since the break. What are the odds Zambrano DH's the games he doesn't start if the Cubs make the World Series? Edge: Dodgers Starting Pitching: Ryan Dempster and his one inning of postseason experience will start Game 1 at Wrigley Field. For all that's been written about trying to protect Carlos Zambrano from his own intensity, it better be more about who has the better stuff than that because in a short series, whomever gets that second start in Game 5 is of great significance. Dempster had a 2.52 ERA after the break compared to 5.80 for Zambrano and that's of course including the no hitter. He hasn't been healthy, and he's been erratic. If Manny Ramirez is one of the keys to this series (which he is), then how has he faced against Dempster compared to Zambrano? Dempster has given up a double in his lone plate appearance while Zambrano has retired Manny in all three at bats, two of them being strikeouts. Derek Lowe will start for the Dodgers in Game 1. He finished 2008 with a 3.24 ERA and a dominant 0.59 ERA over 30.1 innings in September. Outside of a horrible May, Lowe has been consistently superb and he has an impressive 3.34 ERA over his 67.1 playoff innings. Zambrano threw a no hitter against Houston in Milwaukee, and then in his next start he only got five outs and allowed eight earned runs to the Cardinals. His inconsistency makes him unpredictable, but when he's on, he's one of the most dangerous pitchers in the game. He also is a better pitcher at Wrigley while Ted Lilly had a 4.50 ERA at home and 3.89 on the road. Chad Billingsley had an excellent, albeit under-appreciated, season throwing 200+ innings while having an ERA of 3.14 and striking out 201. He has a 2.99 ERA in the second half even though he's lost some of his strike out stuff. Rich Harden will start Game 3 and he's been the Cubs' most dominant starter since his arrival, with a 1.77 ERA and 18 more strikeouts than innings pitched. He had a 2.65 ERA in September, but if an ERA in the mid-2's is a weak month then that shows how dominant he can be. He has never faced the Dodgers but has given up three hits in 11 at bats to Manny, all homers. Hiroki Kuroda had a 3.73 ERA this season and was even better in August and September. His stuff is far from dominant, but he should at least keep Game 3 close if Harden is on. He pitched a complete game shutout against the Cubs earlier this season. Even though Lilly has been a better pitcher on the road this season, he has a career ERA of 14.40 at Dodger Stadium. The sample size is a small five innings of work, but it's a troublesome stat that could be in the back of his emotional (remember the glove throw in Arizona?) head. However, Lilly has been excellent of late, throwing no-hitters through six in each of his past two starts. Lowe could be brought back in Game 4 on short rest, or the Dodgers could go with Greg Maddux or Clayton Kershaw. The Cubs have a clear edge on paper, but with a few breaks here and there the Dodgers can narrow that. Edge: Cubs Bullpen: The Cubs clearly have more talent in the bullpen with the trio of Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Marmol, and Kerry Wood, but they had a 6.02 ERA over 80.2 innings during the month of September and a 5.85 ERA during July. The dominance of the relievers during May (2.18) and August (2.79) were not duplicated throughout the season and their 4.10 ERA is good for 16th in baseball. The Dodgers, however, had the third best relief crew in the game with a 3.33 ERA over 519.2 innings. They've been incredibly consistent even if Jonathan Broxton is explosive for better or worse. Takashi Saito isn't healthy, but he's pitching again. Additionally, while Corey Wade didn't play football at Notre Dame, his 2.27 ERA is slightly better than Samardzija's 2.28. But that late inning trio will shorten the game in ways which will make difficulty for the Dodgers to rally and win. Edge: Even Series Prediction: Cubs in 4