And it starts with the announcement that nine Dodgers are officially free agents. Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen top the list, followed by by starting pitchers Rich Hill and Brett Anderson, relievers Joe Blanton, J.P. Howell and Jesse Chavez, outfielder Josh Reddick and second baseman Chase Utley. Scott Kazmir and Carlos Ruiz could join the list depending on their respective opt-outs.
My personal opinion? Keeping Turner and Jansen should be management’s first priority. After that it’s mixed. I doubt they’ll keep Utley. I think I’d keep Blanton and Howell, I’d try to keep Hill, and I’d watch Reddick and Chavez go.
It’s a magical phrase for a sports fan, Game Seven. Just look at all the previous ones from the World Series.
Here you’ll find Grover Cleveland Alexander’s masterful job of relief in 1926, when he entered the game in the seventh inning of Game Seven after winning Game Six the day before and struck out the Yankees’ Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded to retire the side. You’ll find Dizzy Dean’s 11-0 shutout of the Tigers in 1934, with the left field fans showering Ducky Medwick with bottles after he spiked Mickey Owens in the previous inning. You’ll find Bill Mazeroski’s home run in 1960 and Luis Gonzalez’s bloop single over second base off Mariano Rivera in 2001. And you’ll find Gene Larkin’s single in the 10th inning of the Jack Morris shutout game in 1991.
The Cubs ask Kyle Hendricks to be the man. He started Game Three, went 4 1/3 innings and gave up six hits but no runs in the eventual 1-0 loss to the Indians. He’ll be opposed by the Indians’ Corey Kluber, who’s already won Games One and Four in this Series for the Tribe. He’ll try to join a very exclusive club of pitchers who’ve won three games in a Series; the last member to join was Randy Johnson of the D-Backs in 2001.
It’ll be on Fox at 8:00PM ET. The Cubbies ask LHP John Lester to keep their hopes alive, while the Indians hope RHP Trevor Bauer can win the clincher. Lester is 2-1 with a 1.69 ERA this postseason, while Bauer is 0-1 with a 5.00 ERA.
LHP Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 1 Sv, 3.72 ERA this postseason) tries to keep the Dodgers afloat for a Game Seven. He’ll face RHP Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 3.00 ERA this postseason). They matched up in Game Two and Kershaw got the best of it, going seven innings and getting the 1-0 win. Both pitchers will have had five days rest, one more than usual. I doubt that makes a difference for either of them.
Lineup when available.
#Dodgers NLCS Game 6 lineup: Toles LF Seager SS Turner 3B González 1B Reddick RF Pederson CF Grandal C Utley 2B Kershaw P
On paper the pitching matchup looks to favor the Cubs; LHP Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA) faces RHP Kenta Maeda (16-11, 3.48 ERA). Lester has pitched 14 innings in the playoffs and given up just one run; Maeda hasn’t made it into the fifth inning in either playoff start and has a 9.00 ERA over the seven cumulative innings he’s pitched.
Said in Chris Berman’s affected voice: “That’s why they play the games.”
#Dodgers NLCS Game 5 lineup: Hernández 2B Turner 3B Seager SS Ruiz C Kendrick LF González 1B Puig RF Pederson CF Maeda P
The Cubs send wily veteran RHP John Lackey (11-8, 3.35 ERA) out to face the Dodgers’ rookie LHP Julio Urias (5-2, 3.35 ERA) in hope of tying the series up. Lackey has made 11 career starts in 12 appearances against the Dodgers and has a career 1.75 ERA against them. Urias started twice against the Cubs during the regular season, working six innings to beat them on Aug. 27 at Dodger Stadium after getting beaten up at Wrigley Field in his second Major League start.
#Dodgers NLCS Game 4 lineup: Utley 2B Seager SS Turner 3B González 1B Reddick RF Pederson CF Grandal C Toles LF Urías P
The Cubs send RHP Jake Arrieta (18-8, 310 ERA) to the mound to face LHP Rich Hill (12-5, 2.12 ERA) of the Dodgers. The last time Arrieta faced the Dodgers at this start time was last August; all he did was throw a no-hitter at them. Since then he’s faced them once in May of this season and shut them out for seven innings. He’s not been quite that good in the second half of this season and he hasn’t gotten much help: The Cubs lost all five of his starts in July and four of his last six entering the NLCS start. His ERA is 4.44 in his last 16 starts. Hill, a mid-season acquisition by the Dodgers, hasn’t been able to produce as much as they hoped due to blister issues and an inability to go deep in games. He pitched into the fifth inning in a 5-2 loss at Washington in Game 2 of the NLDS and came out in the third inning of Game 5 when he was working on three days’ rest.
Someone post the lineup when it’s out, please. I’ll be in the air to Honolulu and won’t arrive until about the sixth inning.
The Dodgers once again ask LHP Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA) to pull their bacon out of the fire or stop the bleeding or pick your cliché. He’s pitching on regular rest from his last start, as long as you don’t count his bullpen heroics in Game Five of the NLDS against him. He’ll face RHP Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA). Hendricks finished up strongly, going 7-1 with a 1.72 ERA in his last 11 starts. Like Lester, he’s been his best at Wrigley Field (9-2, 1.32). We know what Kershaw’s done, although his strikeout to walk ratio is still startling: he struck out 172 hitters while walking only 11 (one intentionally). That is a 15.6-1 ratio.
The visitors always want to steal a game in the other team’s home park. The Dodgers had a shot at it last night but failed. They’re hoping they can do it tonight.
Interesting note: the Cubs didn’t face any of the Dodgers’ three most likely starting pitchers in this series during the regular season. Kershaw faced them twice in 2015, beating him at Wrigley and losing at Dodger Stadium.
#Dodgers NLCS Game 2 lineup: Utley 2B Seager SS Turner 3B González 1B Reddick RF Pederson CF Grandal C Toles LF Kershaw P
I’m pretty sure when RHP Kenta Maeda (16-11, 3.48 ERA) signed with the Dodgers last off-season he didn’t expect to be starting Game One of the NLCS. Nonetheless, that’s what he’s doing. He’ll face LHP Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA) of the Cubs. Yes, another lefty. Maeda started Game Three against the Nats in the NLDS and gave up four runs on five hits in three innings. Lester started Game One of the other NLDS against the Giants and threw eight shutout innings to pick up the win.
We all know the history here: the Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988, but that pales in comparison to the Cubs, who haven’t made it to a Series since 1945 and haven’t won one since 1908. What more needs to be said?
In case you missed it, yesterday Orel Hershiser posted this: