The Los Angeles Dodgers face Jon Lester a second time in the National League Championship Series, but have a dramatically different lineup in Game 5 than they did in the series opener against the Chicago Cubs.
Kiké Hernandez is again starting at second base, but batting leadoff this time around. He went 0-for-1 with a walk against Lester in Game 1, and is a career 3-for-3 with one home run and three RBIs off the southpaw.
Other notable changes have Carlos Ruiz in the cleanup spot and Adrian Gonzalez hitting sixth. Ruiz started and hit fourth, twice this season, with both instances coming while he was with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Gonzalez last started and batted sixth in the lineup in 2012. Neither Gonzalez nor Ruiz have fared well in their careers against Lester, but that also holds true for the rest of the Dodgers’ lineup.
Collectively, the starting nine is a combined 16-for-117 (.137) with 30 strikeouts. “I just felt that four, five, six, where I think that the difference is going to be, there’s going to be some opportunities right there,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of his lineup changes.
“I felt that those three guys that I have right there, I feel really good to drive in a run. And I felt that just to have Kiké at the top of the order to focus on getting on base and potentially getting on a fastball early in a count, I like that. Also to have Howie in the mix, and then obviously, Adrian. I feel good with him getting a two-out hit, if need be. Kind of in that area, that’s what it comes down to a lot of times.”
Lester allowed just four hits over six innings in Game 1, and has been nearly unhittable this postseason. Over two starts, he has allowed just one run in 14 innings pitched.
Lester went 1-0 with a 0.60 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers during the regular, including a complete-game effort. The lone run he allowed to Los Angeles in 15 innings came on a Hernandez game-opening home run June 1.
The pivotal swing game at Dodger Stadium is a rematch as Kenta Maeda starts for Los Angeles. In two starts this postseason, he’s allowed seven runs on nine hits in just seven innings.
Against the Cubs in Game 1, Maeda was hurt by mistakes early and put the Dodgers in a 3-0 deficit through two innings. He did settle in over his next two innings, holding the Cubs scoreless.
Maeda was better at home than on the road this season, posting a 3.22 ERA in 15 home starts compared to a 3.74 ERA on the road.
Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell both broke out of big slumps in Game 4. The duo had combined for just two hits this postseason before Wednesday. In Game 4 they combines for six hits, two home runs and five RBIs in the 10-2 victory.
Vin Scully is in attendance for Game 5 at Chavez Ravine. It’s Scully’s first time attending a game since retiring earlier this month.
2B: Kiké Hernandez
3B: Justin Turner
SS: Corey Seager
C: Carlos Ruiz
LF: Howie Kendrick
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
RF: Yasiel Puig
CF: Joc Pederson
P: Kenta Maeda
CF: Dexter Fowler
3B: Kris Bryant
1B: Anthony Rizzo
LF: Ben Zobrist
2B: Javier Baez
RF: Jason Heyward
SS: Addison Russell
C: David Ross
P: Jon Lester