It's hard not to be in awe of the numbers Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw is putting up this season.
Just when you think Kershaw's dominance isn't sustainable, he continues to be just as brilliant.
Ask teammates Matt Kemp and Josh Beckett, both on the disabled list, what they think of Kershaw, and they can't help but gush about the ace.
"When you get to watch him on a regular basis, it's kind of ridiculous. I know he hasn't been doing it for that long, but he could possibly be the best pitcher ever -- he's that good," Beckett said. "Coming over here last year, I knew he was good. But he's exceeded my expectations."
"His numbers are stupid," Kemp said. "I wish we could have given him a little bit more run support at the beginning of the year. He's pretty good."
Cubs left-hander Travis Wood will have the tough task of facing Kershaw and a Los Angeles lineup looking to extend its 9 1/2-game lead over the D-backs in the National League West on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw leads the Majors with a 1.72 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP. The left-hander, who has won eight of his past 10 decisions, has won his last three starts with a minuscule 0.38 ERA.
That's bad news for the Cubs, who have lost all five meetings against the Dodgers this season after being held to five hits over 8 2/3 innings against Zack Greinke in Monday's 6-2 loss. Chicago has lost eight straight games to Los Angeles, dating to Aug. 3, 2012.
Wood took a no-decision on Thursday against the Nationals, allowing four runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. In five starts this month, he is 0-3 with a 5.16 ERA.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum, whose team has scored just eight runs against the Dodgers this season, knows runs will come at premium, especially with Kershaw on the hill.
"You've got to score runs, and [the Red Sox] scored some runs," Sveum said. "We've got our work cut out for us. We missed Kershaw and Greinke [the last series] and that helped a little bit."
Cubs: Samardzija shares NL Player of the Week Award
• Chicago right-hander Jeff Samardzija won co-NL Player of the Week honors on Monday (with Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez) after two dominant outings last week.
Samardzija, who went 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA last week, is hoping to finish his second full season as a starting pitcher with 200 innings.
"That's the plan," Samardzija said. "You can't take anything for granted. We're still not there yet and we'll keep doing what we do."
He went the distance last Monday against the Nationals and then held the Padres to just two runs in eight innings for his first career weekly award.
Dodgers: Kemp ready to test ankle
• Kemp is scheduled to run the bases on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, one of the final tests for his sprained left ankle.
If he has no issues, Kemp could begin a rehab assignment before the Minor League season ends next week.
"When guys start running the bases, that means we're hoping they're getting close to going and playing somewhere," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "But it's how he responds to all those things. It will be a couple of days of baserunning, and then we see how that response is. Matt needs to be 100 percent."
Kemp has been sidelined since July 21, when he injured his ankle in an awkward slide at the plate in Washington. He's missed 69 games this season and played 62.
• The Cubs are 2-23 this season when trailing after the second inning.
• The Dodgers announced the signing of left-handed pitcher Maximiliano Gooding, 17, of Panama on Monday.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.