Cubs

NLCS: Cubs sticking with resurgent lineup for Game 5

NLCS: Cubs sticking with resurgent lineup for Game 5

LOS ANGELES - Joe Maddon preaches keeping things simple, especially this time of year.

The Cubs finally broke out on offense in Game 4, so why change anything up for Game 5?

Of course, the starting battery will change, with Jon Lester taking the mound and his personal catcher David Ross behind the plate for what could be the final time together with Ross still slated to retire after the season.

After a one-game stint in the cleanup spot, Anthony Rizzo moved back to the three-hole and wound up with three hits - including his first postseason homer.

Addison Russell also had a breakout performance (three hits and a homer) in the eight spot, but moves up one spot in the order with "Grandpa Rossy" taking over the eight hole.

Willson Contreras is 6-for-15 (.400 AVG) this postseason, but sits in favor of Ross at catcher and Jason Heyward in the outfield with right-hander Kenta Maeda on the mound for the Dodgers.

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Here's the way the Cubs will line up behind Lester:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Ben Zobrist - LF
5. Javy Baez - 2B
6. Jason Heyward - RF
7. Addison Russell - SS
8. David Ross - C
9. Jon Lester - P

The Dodgers are still insisting they're sending Maeda to the mound and not starting Clayton Kershaw on short rest.

The lefty-heavy Dodgers inserted their right-handed lineup against southpaw Jon Lester:

1. Kike Hernandez - 2B
2. Justin Turner - 3B
3. Corey Seager - SS
4. Carlos Ruiz - C
5. Howie Kendrick - LF
6. Adrian Gonzalez - 1B
7. Yasiel Puig - RF
8. Joc Pederson - CF
9. Kenta Maeda - P

These are the same guys (just in a different order) the Dodgers threw out in Game 1 when Lester gave up one run in six innings.

Game 6 will be Saturday evening at Wrigley Field and a marquee pitching matchup of Kershaw vs. Kyle Hendricks.

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

There were some added stakes to Saturday night’s Cubs-Dodgers matchup. Darvish made his first start at Dodger Stadium since his infamous Game 7 loss in the 2017 World Series, looking for a great effort in front of a fan base that had their up-and-downs in terms of their relationship with him. He (maybe) took a small jab at the Dodgers before the game had even started, telling the Los Angeles Times that he wasn't worried about being booed because “the Dodgers don't have many fans here in the first three innings, so maybe it will be on the quieter side.”

Well Dodgers faithful certainly got the message and made sure to let Darvish hear it.

However, Darvish got the last laugh on Saturday night. He pitched a stellar seven innings. Over those seven innings, Darvish gave up 1 ER on 2 hits and also notched 10 strikeouts.

Darvish has been hitting his stride as of late, maintaining a 2.96 ERA over his last four starts. 

All of that being said, it would be remiss of me not to mention the contributions of Darvish’s teammates. His great outing helped keep the Cubs in the game, but the gutsy performances of Anthony Rizzo and Pedro Strop are what won the contest.

Dodgers All-Star relief pitcher Kenley Jansen had a 10-game scoreless streak coming into Saturday night, but one swing of Rizzo’s bat was all that was needed to restore balance to the everlasting battle of pitcher versus hitter. After Jansen hit Kris Bryant with a pitch to put him on base, Rizzo activated “clutch mode”, mashing a 400-foot bomb out to right field.

Though small, Saturday night’s homer gives Rizzo a three-game hitting streak, perhaps forecasting that things are trending  upwards for the first baseman as the Cubs look to close out the series against the Dodgers with a win on Sunday night. And not to be left out of the fun, Pedro Strop came in to face the Justin Turner, MVP hopeful Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Matt Beaty to nail down the save.

Never afraid of high-pressure moments, Stop came through big time.

Strop got a ground out from Turner, struck out Bellinger and Beaty in his 15-pitch save effort. This was a much-needed win for the Cubs, who have well-documented struggles on the road. As they look to split the four-game set with the Dodgers on Sunday night, the Cubs can be pleased with their fight this week.

Saturday’s win over the Dodgers was the Cubs first win of the season after trailing through six innings, as they were 0-23 in such situations prior to the victory. Amid a season that has been fraught with injury and general roster construction concerns, it was wonderful to see the Cubs pull out a tough win lead by the much-maligned Darvish and the never-quit attitude of his teammates.

Cubs put Kyle Hendricks on 10-Day IL

Cubs put Kyle Hendricks on 10-Day IL

On Saturday, the Cubs announced that they are placing starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks on the 10-day I.L.with right shoulder inflammation. 

Following Hendricks' injury, the Cubs recalled right-handed pitcher Rowan Wick from Triple-A. Wick will be available on Saturday night and beyond, as the Cubs continue their four-game series against the Dodgers. 

This obviously a significant blow for the Cubs, as Hendricks is the team leader in innings pitched (88.1).

Prior to his loss on Friday night, Hendricks had won three straight outings, giving up less than 3 ER in each game. 

The Cubs have plenty of options to replace Hendricks for the time being. With an off day until Monday, they could keep their rotation intact. Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery are options, and the Cubs could push Hendricks next start back to by going with a spot starter. 

Stellar pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay is another intriuging option, and he is coming off of a great outing with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. On Fridaym he racked up 9 strikeouts, giving up 8 hits and 2 ER. 

The 24-year old Alzolay is ranked as the Cubs' fourth-overall prospect and the Hendricks injury could open the door for Alzolay to get called up.

The more likely scenario is that Cubs manager Joe Maddon chooses to use Chatwood. 

Chatwood is the only pitcher outside of the everyday rotation to have made a start this year and is the most obvious stopgap solution until we get further updates on Hendricks' status.