The Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers entered the 2016 season among the favorites to win the World Series, and the two clubs now meet with a trip to the Fall Classic on the line.
Their matchup in the 2016 National League Championship Series is just the second all-time postseason meeting between the Dodgers and Cubs. In a significant upset, Los Angeles swept Chicago in the 2008 NL Division Series.
With the Dodgers once more an underdog, Kenta Maeda takes the ball in Game 1 and he looks to bounce back from a string of subpar starts.
Maeda managed to pitch just three innings in Game 3 of the NLDS, allowing four runs on five hits, including one home run.
It was the third straight start in which the right-handed rookie pitched four innings or less. Maeda led the Dodgers this season in starts (32), innings pitched (175.2) and strikeouts (179).
He said watching Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill served as additional motivation to pitch well in the series opener. Maeda did not face the Cubs this season.
Just as they did in Game 1 of the NLDS, the Cubs hand the ball to Jon Lester. The veteran left-hander tossed eight shutout innings against the San Francisco Giants, with five strikeouts, to earn the win.
Lester went 1-0 with a 0.60 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers, including a complete-game effort. The lone run he allowed to Los Angeles in 15 innings came on a Kiké Hernandez game-opening home run June 1.
That presumably played a role in the Dodgers adding Hernandez to their NLCS roster, and so too did his versatility. “Kiké, his athleticism, versatility, the ability to play essentially anywhere on the baseball field, and I like the potential slug,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said prior to Game 1.
Alex Wood, who like Hernandez was not with the club for the NLDS, is also active. Hernandez and Wood replaced Austin Barnes and Charlie Culberson.
The lone change for the Cubs on their postseason roster was the addition of Rob Zastryzny. He gives Chicago a quartet of lefties in their bullpen, led by closer Aroldis Chapman.
The Dodgers’ lineup predictably has additional right-handed batters, namely Carlos Ruiz behind the plate. Ruiz delivered a pinch-hit, go-ahead single in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the NLDS.
The Dodgers went 3-4 against the Cubs this season, dropping three of four at Wrigley Field.
LF: Howie Kendrick
3B: Justin Turner
SS: Corey Seager
RF: Yasiel Puig
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
C: Carlos Ruiz
2B: Kiké Hernandez
CF: Joc Pederson
P: Kenta Maeda
CF: Dexter Fowler
3B: Kris Bryant
1B: Anthony Rizzo
LF: Ben Zobrist
SS: Addison Russell
RF: Jason Heyward
2B: Javier Baez
C: David Ross
P: Jon Lester