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Looking ahead to NLCS Game 2: Dodgers-Cardinals

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The Dodgers and Cardinals will have little time to recover from their extra-inning marathon last night, as the two teams will meet in Game 2 of the NLCS this afternoon at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The game will start at 4 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on TBS.

Here’s a quick look at the pitching matchup and some random notes:

After dropping Game 1, the Dodgers will turn to their ace Clayton Kershaw to even up the series. The National League Cy Young Award favorite had a 0.69 ERA and 18/4 K/BB ratio in 13 innings over two starts during the NLDS against the Braves. He pitched on three days’ rest for the first time in his career in Game 4 on Monday, but he’ll be going on regular rest in this one.

Michael Wacha will get the ball for the Cardinals after he flirted with a no-hitter in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Pirates on Monday. The rookie right-hander ended up giving up one run on one hit over 7 1/3 innings while striking out nine batters and walking a pair. He held the Nationals hitless for 8 2/3 innings during his final regular season start on September 24, so the Dodgers will hope to buck that trend. This will be their first look at Wacha.

With the quick turnaround, it will be interesting to see whether Andre Ethier is back in the lineup for Game 2 or if Don Mattingly decides to go with Skip Schumaker in center field. Coming off a left ankle injury, Ethier wasn’t moving around great last night and was eventually replaced Scott Van Slyke in the 13th inning. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times notes that Ethier was limping out of the visiting clubhouse after the game and had his ankle taped.

Trevor Rosenthal threw 33 pitches over two innings in Game 1 last night, so Cardinals manager Mike Matheny might have to go in another direction for a possible save opportunity this afternoon. With Kershaw and Wacha on the mound, it looks like we could see another low-scoring nail-biter.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.