With Clayton Kershaw a likely lock for Game 2, Kenta Maeda (16-11, 3.48 ERA) will take the hill as the Dodgers kick off the NLCS on Saturday. There’s a little more pressure on Maeda this time around after he allowed four runs in three innings during his first postseason start earlier this week. Granted, it was his first career start against the Nationals, but the same can be said here: through 32 starts in the 2016 season, Maeda didn’t match up with the Cubs once.
Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA) will welcome the Dodgers to Wrigley Field tonight, with Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta to follow during Games 2 and 3, respectively. There’s no way around the Cubs’ stacked rotation… or their stacked bullpen, or their stacked lineup, for that matter. Lester’s first foray into the 2016 postseason was met with a little more success than Maeda’s; against Johnny Cueto and the Giants, he worked eight shutout innings during the Cubs’ 1-0 win to open the NLDS. He also has some experience against the Dodgers this year, holding them to one run and striking out 16 over 15 innings in the regular season.
Despite the Dodgers’ airtight bullpen (a league-leading 3.35 ERA in 590 2/3 regular season innings) and heavy hitters like Corey Seager and Justin Turner, the Cubs are still the clear favorites here — as they have been all season. The Dodgers may have won each of their NLDS match-ups on a razor-thin one-run lead, but it’ll take more than late-inning heroics and dominant pitching to best the best of the best. Not only are the Cubs planning on sending out three of their aces in the first three games of the NLCS, but they’ll utilize Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and a steaming hot Javier Baez (.375/.412/.563 in 17 postseason plate appearances) to anchor their offensive drive as well.