#906 Los Angeles Dodgersvs.#905 Chicago Cubs
Written by Chris Kubala
MLB: Thursday, October 20, 2016, Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California, 8 pm ET
Lines: Chicago N/A, Los Angeles N/A; Over/Under: N/A
It’s Game 5 of the National League Championship Series as both teams try to draw closer to a berth in the World Series. The Chicago Cubs are on the road for the last of three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers out west Thursday night. The teams split the first two games in Chicago with the Cubs winning Game 1 8-4 and the Dodgers taking Game 2 by a 1-0 score. Los Angeles took Game 3 at home Tuesday night by a 6-0 score. It was experience vs. youth in Game 4 as John Lackey pitched for the Cubs against the Dodgers’ Julio Urias.
Chicago entered Wednesday’s Game 4 having scored on just three of 26 innings in the NLCS and being blanked in the last 18 frames. After finishing with just two hits in Game 2, the Cubs had four hits in Game 3 but couldn’t put runs on the board. Kris Bryant had two of Chicago’s four hits while Anthony Rizzo got his first hit of the series with a broken bat single in the ninth. Dexter Fowler had the Cubs’ lone extra base hit with a double. The Cubs need to get some runs on the board or their successful season will come to a halt. Jake Arrieta took the loss and is 0-1 in the postseason. He threw five plus innings, allowing four runs on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
Jon Lester takes the hill for his third postseason start for the Cubs. He led the NL in winning percentage with a .792 mark in the regular season. Lester finished the regular season 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.016 WHIP with 197 strikeouts in 202.1 innings. He went 10-1 in his last 15 regular season starts dating back to before the All-Star break. Lester is 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA and a 0.714 WHIP over 14 innings in the playoffs. He took a no-decision in his last start, which came in Game 1 of the NLCS against LA. Lester threw six innings, allowing a run on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts. The Cubs went on to an 8-4 win. Lester makes his seventh career start against the Dodgers. He is 2-2 with a 2.82 ERA and a 0.965 WHIP over 38.1 innings. Lester makes his fourth career start at Dodger Stadium. He is 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA and a 1.034 WHIP over 19.1 innings.
Los Angeles put together a solid offensive attack and got terrific pitching for the second straight game. With that, the Dodgers took a 2-1 lead in the series and depending on what happens in Game 4, you never know who takes the mound here. Corey Seager (RBI) led the Dodgers with three hits in the game while Yasiel Puig (run) had a pair. Yasmani Grandal (his first, 3 RBI) and Justin Turner (his first) each homered in the victory. Rich Hill picked up the win to even his postseason record at 1-1. He threw six scoreless innings, allowing two hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Three relievers completed the shutout.
Kenta Maeda logs his third postseason start in this contest for the Dodgers. The prized right-hander from Japan looks to shut down the opposition. He finished the regular season 16-11 with a 3.48 ERA and a 1.139 WHIP over 175.2 innings of work. He was 8-4 in his last 13 starts. Maeda is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP over seven innings in the postseason. Maeda recorded a no-decision in his last outing, which came in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Cubs Saturday. He threw four innings, allowing three runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts. The Dodgers lost the game, 8-4. This marks Maeda’s second career start against the Cubs with the Game 1 start his debut against them. He makes his 17th career start at Dodger Stadium here. Maeda is 7-6 with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.216 WHIP over 89.2 innings of work.
Depending on what unfolds in Game 4, it could be Clayton Kershaw on short rest for the Dodgers. Either way, it’s going to be Lester in the mix for the Cubs. Dave Roberts is playing things close to the vest but we’re leaning toward Maeda starting here. The Cubs have a lot of history and it’s clearly weighed on them in the first three games of the series. Chicago needs the victory to make sure they can get back to the Windy City. Lester is the lefty in the Cubs’ rotation and he gets it done.
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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.