#907 Los Angeles Dodgersvs.#908 Chicago Cubs
Written by Chris Kubala
MLB: Sunday, October 16, 2016, Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois, 8 pm ET
Lines: Chicago N/A, Los Angeles N/A; Over/Under: N/A
The best of seven National League Championship Series continues in the Windy City. The Los Angeles Dodgers travel to face the majors’ top team, the Chicago Cubs, in Game 2 of the series Sunday night. Los Angeles beat Washington, 4-3, in the decisive Game 5 of their NLDS on the road Thursday night. Chicago rallied to knock off the Giants, 6-5, on the road in Game 4 of their NLDS Tuesday night. The pitching matchup for the opener Saturday night was Kenta Maeda for the Dodgers facing Jon Lester of the Cubs.
Los Angeles took the last two games of the series to eliminate the Nationals. The Dodgers try to set the tone in the opener against the Cubs. Los Angeles scored four times in the seventh inning to erase a 1-0 deficit. Joc Pederson (run, RBI) hit a solo homer to trigger the rally and was the lone Dodgers player with two hits. Justin Turner drove in a pair of runs while Carlos Ruiz (run) drove in the other run. Rich Hill allowed one run on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts over 2.2 innings while recording a no-decision. Julio Urias threw two scoreless innings, allowing a hit with two walks and a strikeout while picking up the win. Clayton Kershaw, who started Game 4, recorded the last two outs for the save.
Kershaw is on the hill for his fourth postseason appearance and third start of the playoffs. He’s at least projected to start here according to manager Dave Roberts. Kershaw was 12-4 with a 1.69 ERA and a 0.725 WHIP with 172 strikeouts over 149 innings in 21 regular season starts. In the playoffs, he is 1-0 with one save, a 5.84 ERA and a 1.459 WHIP over 12.1 innings of work. He picked up his first career postseason save in his last outing, which came Thursday against the Nationals. Kershaw threw two-thirds of an inning, striking out one, to preserve a 4-3 Dodgers win that clinched the series. He makes his ninth career start against the Cubs. Kershaw is 5-3 with a 2.18 ERA and a 1.043 WHIP over 53.2 innings. He is 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.222 WHIP over 18 innings in three starts at Wrigley Field.
Chicago had an improbable ninth inning rally to oust the Giants in Game 4 of the series. The Cubs had just two runs and two hits in the first eight innings before scoring four times in the ninth. David Ross hit a solo homer and drove in another run with a sacrifice fly. Pinch hitter Willson Contreras drove in two runs to tie the score in the ninth while Javier Baez knocked in the winning run. John Lackey took a no-decision in his start. He threw four innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Hector Rondon (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the victory. Flamethrower Aroldis Chapman fanned the side on 13 pitches in the ninth. His third save of the series sent the Cubs back to the NLCS.
Kyle Hendricks makes his second postseason start for the Cubs here. He was 16-8 with a NL leading 2.13 ERA and a 0.979 WHIP over 190 innings in the regular season. It was a tremendous performance for Hendricks, who was considered the team’s fifth starter coming into the year. He was 12-2 with a 1.55 ERA in his last 19 appearances dating back to June 19. Hendricks boasted a NL best 1.32 ERA at home this year.
Hendricks has no record with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP over 3.2 innings in the postseason He took a no-decision in his last start, which was in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Giants. He allowed two runs on four hits with no walks or strikeouts over 3.2 innings. Hendricks was knocked out after a liner off the bat of Angel Pagan struck his forearm. The Cubs went on to a 5-2 victory in the contest. Hendricks makes his fourth career start against the Dodgers. He is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA and a 0.70 WHIP over 20 innings. This is Hendricks’ 39th appearance and 38th start at Wrigley Field. He’s 15-6 with a 2.28 ERA and a 1.009 WHIP over 225 innings.
This one is a tough one to call. Kershaw is tremendous and is an elite pitcher arguably in a class of his own. He’s also thrown a ton of pitches in the divisional round and missed two months with a back issue. Factor in his less than stellar postseason record and it makes things a little more even. Hendricks was terrific at Wrigley Field this season and established himself as a dark horse Cy Young candidate. The Cubs have a deep lineup and they have plenty of lefty arms to use out of the bullpen to negate the Dodgers’ advantage in platoon situations. It’s close, but the Cubs have enough to get the win here, especially if Kershaw has his outing shortened by long at-bats.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.