Dodgers @ Cubs October 18, 2017: NLCS Game 4

Photo: Sarah Wexler

Well, folks, the Dodgers have gone further than they have in any year since 1988. No other Dodger team that’s made it to the NLCS in the past three decades has hit the three-win mark. Yes, the Dodgers are one win away from the World Series, and it’s all a little surreal.

The Dodgers still need that final win to get them there, of course. They’ll have four shots to get it, should they need that many. But hey, why not get it over with tonight?

Dodgers
Cubs
6:01 PM TBS
Chicago
SS
Taylor
CF
Almora
1B
Bellinger
LF
Schwarber
3B
Turner
3B
Bryant
RF
Puig
1B
Rizzo
LF
Ethier
C
Contreras
CF
Granderson
SS
Russell
C
Grandal 2B Báez
2B
Utley
RF
Jay
P
Wood (L)
P
Arrieta (R)

Alex Wood‘s (2.72 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 3.44 DRA) first start in three weeks is a big one. It’s his first ever postseason start (all his previous postseason appearances came in relief). Given his late-season struggles and how much rest he’s on, it’s reasonable to be skeptical about how he’ll do. As Chad said last night, though, it feels so much better having him go out there with the series 3-0 than it would if it was 2-1. We’ll keep an eye on his velocity, and we should probably be prepared to see the bullpen, once again, get a decent amount of work in.

Wood faced the Cubs twice in 2017. The first time was at Wrigley in April, and it was an abbreviated start, just 3.2 innings and two runs (one earned) allowed on three hits and five walks. He fared a bit better when facing them at Dodger Stadium in May, delivering five scoreless innings and striking out eight. Prior to that, Wood’s most recent appearance against the Cubs came in Game 4 of last year’s NLCS, which he closed out with two scoreless frames.

Jake Arrieta (3.53 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 4.24 DRA) really isn’t the same pitcher as the one who absconded with the Cy Young Award in 2015 (and no-hit the Dodgers at home on his way to doing so). He wasn’t bad this year, but he was far from great. In his one 2017 start against L.A., he allowed four runs on five hits (two home runs) and a walk while striking out nine. Those home runs were hit by Chase Utley (batting eighth tonight) and Adrián González (not on the roster). Arrieta also struggled in his NLDS start against the Nationals, despite what the one unearned run might suggest — it took him 90 pitches to get through four innings, and he walked five batters.

With a Cubs righty on the mound for the second day in a row, Dave Roberts has sent out another lefty-heavy lineup, this time starting Curtis Granderson in center. It’s his third time doing so for the Dodgers, although he played there plenty for the Mets this year.

That’s 10 hits, including three home runs, in 37 plate appearances since 2010. It’s obviously a small and largely outdated sample size, but it seems like that’s a pretty good bet as to why he’s starting.

As we were told would happen yesterdayYasmani Grandal is getting a start at catcher for the first time since Game 1 of the NLDS. Andre Ethier, who homered last night, gets another shot at starting in left field.

Will this be the lineup that, at long, long last takes the Dodgers to the Fall Classic? We will see.

About Sarah Wexler

Sarah Wexler

Sarah Wexler is a native Angeleno and longtime Dodger fan. She began blogging about baseball in 2012 on her Tumblr, New Grass On The Field, where she covered an array of topics but especially enjoyed exploring baseball history. She now writes for The Hardball Times, FanGraphs and Sporting News, and co-hosts a podcast, The Hardball Times Audio. She recently earned her master’s degree in Sports Management from Cal State Long Beach. She graduated from New York University in 2014 with a bachelor’s in History and a minor in American Studies. She’s an avid Springsteen fan, which is a big boost to her baseball writer cred.