Travis Wood's remarkable season so far for the Chicago Cubs earned him All-Star recognition for the first time in his career.
Hyun-Jin Ryu may not have made a trip to the Midsummer Classic, but his contributions have been key for the Los Angeles Dodgers all year long.
The two hurlers resume their breakout campaigns on Friday afternoon when the Cubs and Dodgers continue a four-game series in Chicago.
Both Wood and Ryu rank near the top of the NL in quality starts and Wood has posted a remarkable 2.79 earned run average through 21 starts this season. The lefty had a 4.84 ERA in 2011 with the Reds and lowered that to 4.27 in his first season with the Cubs in 2012.
Wood is 7-7 on the year and logged his 18th quality start of the season on Sunday in San Francisco. He was charged with just one unearned run over seven innings versus the Giants, working around four hits and four walks while striking out seven in a 2-1 decision.
The 26-year-old also helped his own cause with his third homer of the season, the most by a Cubs pitcher since 2009, when Carlos Zambrano connected on four.
Wood is 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA in three previous meetings with the Dodgers, who have seen their rotation bolstered by the performance of Ryu, a Major League rookie who enjoyed a ton of success pitching in the Korea Baseball Organization. He was a seven-time All-Star with the Hanwha Eagles and helped his country win a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.
The 26-year-old lefty has found very little struggles in North America, going 9-3 with a 3.14 ERA in 20 starts this season. Fifteen of those have been quality outings.
His last came on Saturday, another gem versus the Cincinnati Reds in which Ryu gave up just a run on two hits while striking out nine over seven innings. He won his second start in a row and is 3-0 over his last six outings -- all Dodger victories -- since a defeat on June 19.
"This is the best he's been over his last few games. You saw from the first batter he was very serious tonight. He had something extra on his heater and he had a good change-up," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said of Ryu, who will face the Cubs for the first time.
Sizzling Los Angeles extended its lead atop the NL West back to 3 1/2 games over Arizona after taking the opener of this series 6-4 over Chicago. Jerry Hairston and Hanley Ramirez both knocked in two runs, while Yasiel Puig hit a solo homer.
Los Angeles starter Ricky Nolasco, making his first start since last Wednesday, allowed three runs on four hits while striking out six over five innings.
"It was good to have a couple extra days," Nolasco said. "I felt good tonight."
The Dodgers improved to 11-2 since the All-Star break and have won 11 straight on the road for the first time since 1955.
Junior Lake and Anthony Rizzo each had a pair of solo homers for the Cubs, who have lost four of five.
"We didn't really give ourselves the opportunity to score runs tonight, which is unusual for us," Rizzo said.
Chris Rusin got the start for Chicago and gave up four runs on seven hits while walking three over five-plus frames.
Los Angeles won four of six versus Chicago a season ago.