(Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)
In what is shaping up to be a critical Game 3 for both clubs in the NLCS on Tuesday in Los Angeles, the Dodgers will send veteran southpaw Rich Hill to the bump, while the Cubs will counter with the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner, Jake Arrieta.
If the Dodgers can find a way to handle Arrieta and the Cubs, they’ll take control of the series and have a shot of clinching a World Series berth at home by week’s end. If Chicago is victorious, the team will have a chance to clinch even before returning home to Wrigley Field on Saturday.
With a sub-1.80 ERA for the first half of the season, Arrieta appeared to be a lock for consecutive Cy Young Awards, but he tailed off significantly in the second half, posting a 4.44 ERA over his final 16 starts with 41 walks in 99-1/3 innings of work.
For the entire season, the 30-year-old righty tallied an 18-8 record with a 3.10 ERA alongside 190 strikeouts and 76 walks in 197-1/3 frames. He also allowed 16 home runs, the second-highest total in his seven-year big league career.
Arrieta faced the Dodgers one time this year at Wrigley back on May 31 when he threw seven innings of two-hit, shutout ball while striking out eight, but wasn’t involved in the decision. Rookie shortstop Corey Seager ended up hitting a mammoth 2-run homer in the top of the ninth off of Trevor Cahill which was the exclamation point of the five-run ninth in the 5-0 victory for Los Angeles.
So far this postseason, Arrieta has made one appearance against the Giants in the NLDS, and while not having not been involved in the decision, he allowed six hits and two runs over six innings, but walked just one batter with five strikeouts.
Here’s a quick, concise scouting report from David Schoenfield of ESPN:
“Arrieta’s fastball is still a tough pitch, averaging 93.8 mph with some late sink to it. Against left-handers, he tends to work the outer third of the strike zone with the fastball and he also works up and down the zone. He’ll mix in his curveball as well. Even when he was struggling with walks, Arrieta did a good job limiting hard contact.”
After lasting only 2-2/3 innings in a meticulously managed contest by skipper Dave Roberts in Game 5 of the NLDS against Washington, Hill, like resident ace Clayton Kershaw in Game 2, hopes to provide the Dodgers with quality length while shortening the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.
In his first appearance of the postseason in Game 2 of the NLDS on October 9, Hill was pulled after 4-1/3 innings in the loss, having surrendered four earned runs on six hits and a walk, including the game-clinching, three-run home run to Jose Lobaton in the fourth frame.
Ironically, Hill appeared for the Cubs in the playoffs back in 2007, making one start in Game 3 of the division series against the Diamondbacks. A completely different pitcher at the time, he surrendered three runs on six hits and two walks in only three innings.
With his gift of successfully spinning the ball across the dish, Hill hopes to take advantage of the shadows at Dodger Stadium early in the game, as the Cubs are hitting only .157 versus left-handed pitching so far in the playoffs.
The Dodgers will almost certainly run out an exclusively left-handed hitting lineup against Arrieta, with the possible exception of third baseman Justin Turner. First pitch for Game 3 is slated for 5:08 p.m. Pacific time and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
In Game 4 news, Roberts confirmed that 20-year-old rookie Julio Urias will make his second appearance and first start of the postseason. Urías will square off against 37-year-old veteran right-hander John Lackey.