Los Angeles Dodgers (Kershaw 12-4, 1.69) vs. Chicago Cubs (Hendricks 16-8, 2.13)
Cubs leads series 3-2
8pm ET Saturday on FS1
After scoring 10 runs in Wednesday’s win over the Dodgers, the Cubs kept on mashing Thursday, banging out 13 hits in an 8-4 win to take a 3-2 lead in this best-of-series, putting themselves one win away from a date with the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. But first they’ll have to get past the best pitcher of his generation.
After years of playoff performances unbecoming of a three-time Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw has begun regressing to his own very excellent mean. Kershaw got the save in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Giants, then came back two days later to pitch 7 scoreless innings to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. In the process he lowered his career postseason ERA from 4.83 to 4.39, not exactly Hall of Fame stuff, but trending sharply downward. Tonight he’ll be pitching on full rest for the first time in two weeks, in the biggest game of his career. Only once before has he pitched this late in the season, Game 6 of the 2013 NLCS against St. Louis, and it was a disaster.
Kyle Hendricks had the thankless job of opposing Kershaw in Game 2, pitching 5 ⅓ innings of 1-run ball, but getting the loss in a 1-0 game on a night when the Cubs’ bats went silent. Hendricks had trouble with his command that night, matching his season-high by issuing 4 walks, driving is pitch count to 91, seven more pitches than Kershaw needed to get through 7, if he pitches like that again, it’s unlikely he’ll hold the Dodgers to just one run.