Clayton Kershaw to face Cubs in Game 2 of NLCS without any restrictions

Clayton Kershaw to face Cubs in Game 2 of NLCS without any restrictions

Despite more recent usage than normal, Clayton Kershaw said Saturday he’s ready for action.

Only two days removed from his first major league save, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced Kershaw would start against the Cubs in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday night.

Working on one day of rest, Kershaw recorded the final two outs in Game 5 to clinch a NL Divisional Series victory for the Dodgers over the Washington Nationals. Kershaw threw seven pitches on what would have been a bullpen day, though he suggested the intensity was “a hair different” than if it were a normal side session. Kershaw’s Game 5 outing took place just two days after he threw 110 pitches in Game 4. But Kershaw suggested Saturday his workload won’t be a factor come Sunday.

“Yeah, I'm not going in with any restrictions or -- yeah, there's no -- no excuses at this point,” Kershaw said. “So we're just going in trying to get a win.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]​

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said there was little debate about whom he would start in the second game as long as Kershaw felt good. The six-time All-Star and three-time NL Cy Young winner worked out on Friday and later told Roberts he’s physically fine.

Roberts said he wanted his ace, who was limited to 21 starts this season because of a back injury, also available for Game 6, if necessary. The Dodgers will start Rich Hill in Game 3 in Los Angeles on Tuesday and haven’t made a decision on their Game 4 starter, Roberts said.

“It's not complicated in the sense of if he feels good, then it's a no-brainer,” Roberts said. “It's just more of just getting assurance that he feels good physically, which he does, and so it's one of those things, obviously, when you get a chance for Clayton to pitch Games 2 and potentially 6, that's a good thing for us and, yeah, it's full go.”

Kershaw has no doubt about what he can deliver. He’s excited to pitch at Wrigley Field in the postseason and noted how much Chicago is buzzing about the Cubs. Kershaw’s heroics Tuesday on the heels of closer Kenley Jansen’s 51-pitch performance have had the rest of the baseball world buzzing. While he’s happy that teammate Charlie Culbertson had the wherewithal to recover the final out game ball and it’s in the pitcher’s possession, Kershaw hasn’t afforded himself any time to reflect on the achievement.

“I'm thankful that it happened, thankful that we got to do it, and it was a lot of fun,” Kershaw said. “But as far as reflecting on it or anything like that, it's just -- you just can't do it right now. It doesn't really matter at this point. I know the Cubs don't care. They know that we're trying to beat them just as bad as they're trying to beat us, and that's what we're focused on right now.”

Seven Cubs in line to advance to next round of MLB All-Star Game voting

Seven Cubs in line to advance to next round of MLB All-Star Game voting

In the second and final update before the first round of voting closes, the Cubs are still all over All-Star Game voting.

It’s basically status quo in the update. Willson Contreras and Javy Baez are still blowing away the field at their positions, with more than twice as many votes as the closest player.

Kris Bryant remains solidly in second at third base. Anthony Rizzo fell to third behind Freddie Freeman of the Braves, but he is still comfortably ahead of Max Muncy of the Dodgers for the top three spot that will advance him to MLB’s new Starters Election.

All three Cubs outfielders are set to advance as well. Albert Almora Jr. moved up from fifth to fourth and Jason Heyward moved up from seventh to fifth. Interestingly, Bryce Harper is the odd man out, for now, sitting 10th among NL outfielders.

That gives the Cubs seven players set to advance to the Starters Election. Voting for this round closes Friday at 3 p.m. CT. The Starters Election features the top three at each individual position and top nine among outfielders.


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Cubs Talk Podcast: It's so good to be with the Director of Morale

USA Today

Cubs Talk Podcast: It's so good to be with the Director of Morale

Luke Stuckmeyer and producer Eric Strobel welcome Frederic, aka the Cubs' unofficial Director of Morale. Fred takes us through the origins and growth of his fandom and social media persona (1:30), before discussing how Jake Arrieta's dominance announced the Cubs as contenders (7:30) and the now-ubiquitous hard hats in the bleachers (16:00). Finally, Fred and the guys talk about this year's team, including the lack of strikeout stuff on the pitching staff (22:30) and the unicorn that is Javy Baez (30:00). 

You can listen to the entire thing right here or in the embedded player below: