It’s official: Kenta Maeda will lead off Game 1 of the Dodgers-Cubs NLCS on Saturday evening. Beyond that, Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts was tight-lipped about the remaining pitching match-ups in the series, though the club will carry an additional pitcher as they work through the first best-of-seven series of the playoffs (per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi).
Maeda struggled in his first playoff appearance, going three innings in Game 3 of the NLDS with five hits, four runs, and four strikeouts. All four of the runs scored in the third inning, capped by Anthony Rendon‘s two-run shot. While Roberts said he expects Maeda’s performance to be improved heading into the NLCS, the proof will be in the pitching: the rookie right-hander hasn’t pitched deeper than four innings in a game since September 21, and the Dodgers will be looking to give their bullpen a break against a stacked Cubs’ lineup.
Oh, and just in case Saturday’s opener goes the way of the Dodgers’ dramatic NLDS clinch, professional innings eater Kenley Jansen could be available for an inning of work despite suffering some leg fatigue. Clayton Kershaw, on the other hand, will likely be kept on a fully day of rest.