Trailing in the National League Championship Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers can overcome a deflating loss by earning a split against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. They’ll look to do so behind Clayton Kershaw, who takes the mound a third time in the past six days.
Starting on three days’ rest, Kershaw threw 110 pitches over 6.2 innings in Game 4 of the NL Division Series. He came back two days later to record the final two outs in Game 5 to earn a save that sent the Dodgers to the NLCS.
Kershaw needed just seven pitches to complete his relief appearance, and said there aren’t any restrictions in place for his start in Game 2 of the NLCS.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts echoed a similar sentiment on Sunday, restating Kershaw’s back injury that forced him to miss two months is not an issue.
Kershaw allowed eight runs on 15 hits and had 19 strikeouts over 12.1 innings pitched during the Division Series. He didn’t face the Cubs this season, though went 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA and 23 strikeouts over 15 innings in two starts in 2015.
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo both homered off Kershaw last season. In discussing the Cubs’ lineup, Kershaw noted their collective on-base percentage and ability to make a pitcher labor. He’s a lifetime 0-3 with a 7.23 ERA in six NLCS games (three starts).
The Dodgers back their ace with the expected lineup when facing a right-hander.Chase Utley returns and bats leadoff, Andrew Toles starts in left field, and Josh Reddick is in right.
Adrian Gonzalez, who hit the game-tying, two-run single off Aroldis Chapman in Game 1, is fifth all-time in Los Angeles franchise history 19 RBI during postseason play.
Kyle Hendricks makes his second start of the 2016 postseason. His first outing, in Game 2 of the NLDS, was cut short after taking a comebacker off the wrist. Hendricks allowed two runs on four hits in 3.2 innings before being removed.
His lone start against the Dodgers this season came in June at home. The right-hander turned in eight quality innings, limiting Los Angeles to a pair of runs on three hits to earn a win. Hendricks led qualified pitchers with a 2.13 ERA this season. He went 9-2 with a 1.32 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) at home.
The Cubs lineup largely remains unchanged, with the exception coming behind the plate and where Jason Heyward is batting. Wilson Contreras forms the battery with Hendricks, and Heyward drops from sixth to eighth in the order.
2B: Chase Utley
SS: Corey Seager
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
RF: Josh Reddick
CF: Joc Pederson
C: Yasmani Grandal
LF: Andrew Toles
P: Clayton Kershaw
CF: Dexter Fowler
3B: Kris Bryant
1B: Anthony Rizzo
LF: Ben Zobrist
SS: Addison Russell
2B: Javier Baez
C: Wilson Contreras
RF: Jason Heyward
P: Kyle Hendricks