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.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998


Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis


Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

Yu Darvish now has more trips to the disabled list in a Cubs uniform than wins.

The Cubs place their 31-year-old right-handed pitcher on the DL Saturday evening with right triceps tendinitis. The move is retroactive to May 23, so he may only have to miss one turn through the rotation.

In a corresponding move, Randy Rosario was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to provide Joe Maddon with another arm in the bullpen. Tyler Chatwood will start Sunday in Darvish's place.

Thanks to two off-days on the schedule last week, the Cubs should be fine with their rotation for a little while. Jon Lester could go on regular rest Monday, but the Cubs would need to make a decision for Tuesday given Kyle Hendricks just threw Friday afternoon.

That decision could mean Mike Montgomery moving from the bullpen to the rotation for a spot start, or it could be the promotion of top prospect Adbert Alzolay from Triple-A Iowa.

Either way, this is more bad news for Darvish, who has had a rough go of it since he signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs in February.

Between issues with the weather, the concern of arm cramps in his debut in Miami, leg cramps in Atlanta, a trip to the disabled list for the flu, trouble making it out of the fifth inning and now triceps tendinitis, it's been a forgettable two months for Darvish.

He is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 40 innings with the Cubs.

Over the course of 139 career starts, Darvish is 57-45 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings.