The Dodgers look to take a commanding series lead in the NLCS.
Last night’s game was such a nice change of pace. The only late drama involved was whether the Dodgers would finish off the shutout, which they did. They hit the ball well off a very good pitcher and Rich Hill showed why the Dodgers traded for him. And now, the Dodgers find themselves two wins away from a series win.
Julio Urias gets the start today. At 20 years and 68 days old, Urias is the youngest pitcher to ever start a postseason game. Not in Dodger history, in baseball history. No pressure.
Urias had a mostly stellar rookie season. It got off to a poor start, as he allowed eight runs in his first seven innings.
Throw those two appearances out, and Urias only had one outing where he gave up more than three runs. In his 69.1 innings of work excluding his first two starts, Urias posted a 2.73 ERA and struck out 77 batters while only walking 22. He succeeded despite a very high .376 BABIP during those 16 appearances, 13 of which came as a starter.
Urias ended the season extremely well. In his final eight outings (six starts, two relief appearances), he allowed five runs in 33.2 innings.
This will be Urias’ third start against the Cubs in his short career. His second career start came against them at Wrigley, and he allowed five runs in five innings. He allowed three homers in that game (Javier Baez, Jason Heyward and Kris Bryant), but redeemed himself at Dodger Stadium.
In August, Urias started against the Cubs in LA and held them to one run in six innings. The run came in the first after a walk and two singles, but he did well to get out of the jam and turned in six great innings. The Cubs got a baserunner on in every inning against him, but held the Cubs to a single run while striking out eight.
John Lackey is probably Urias’ exact opposite. He is 37 and was drafted by the Angels less than three years after Urias was born. After a few down years, Lackey is back to being an extremely solid starter, and this will be the 22nd postseason start of his career.
Lackey was solid for the Cubs this year and being great for the Cardinals last year. They gave him a two-year, $32 million dollar deal and sacrificed their draft pick to sign him, but he gave the Cubs a great fifth starter. He posted a 3.35 ERA/3.81 FIP in 29 starts (188 innings).
He missed the Dodgers in both series’ this year, so his last start against LA came last May. He held the Dodgers to five hits and a walk through seven shutout innings as a member of the Cardinals.
Lackey has a reputation as a big-game postseason pitcher dating back to stellar performances with the Angels. However, his last two postseason starts have been rough. He allowed four runs in three innings last year as a Cardinal against these Cubs in the NLDS, a loss that got the Cards eliminated from the postseason. He made one NLDS start this season against the Giants and allowed three runs in four innings, but the Cubs came back to win and eliminate the Giants.
With a righty on the hill, a normal lineup.
Corey Seager broke out of his mini-slump with a three-hit game yesterday. Josh Reddick looked better at the plate, and Yasmani Grandal broke out in a big way. The Dodgers have a lot of hitters that can get hot fast, so keeping their foot on the gas will be key.
Adrian Gonzalez has had success against Lackey in the past, with seven hits in 23 at bats. No current Dodger has ever taken Lackey deep, so that should hopefully change tonight.
Anthony Rizzo is back in the three spot, Jason Heyward is back in the lineup and Willson Contreras starts behind the plate. This is a very potent Cub lineup, and the fact that they’ve been shut down by Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. They’re one big inning away from resuming to scare the crap out of me.
Obviously, no Cub hitters have a long history against Urias. Bryant, Rizzo, Bryant, Heyward, Dexter Fowler and Jorge Soler each have two hits off Urias.
First pitch is scheduled for 5:08 PST and will be shown on FS1.
Dave Roberts confirmed that Kenta Maeda will start tomorrow, whether the Dodgers win or lose this game. That allows Kershaw to start game six and Hill to start game seven in Chicago if those are necessary.