Cubs @ Dodgers October 18, 2016: NLCS Game 3

The National League Championship Series resumes Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium with the Dodgers and Cubs each looking for three more wins to secure a World Series berth.

5:00 PM PST, FS1
Los Angeles
Russell C Grandal
 Arrieta (R)
Hill (L)

Clayton Kershaw was dominant in Game 2 in Chicago, and the Dodgers only needed a solo home run from veteran Adrian Gonzalez to tie the best-of-seven series at 1. A split of the first two games at Wrigley was a big boost to the Dodgers, who now have the opportunity to play three straight games at home.

The Dodgers were one of the best home teams in baseball during the regular season (53-28), and they won two of three against the Cubs at Chavez Ravine in August. This time the stakes are higher, and they will have to somehow find a way to muster some offense off Jake Arrieta.

The last time Arrieta pitched at Dodger Stadium, he threw a no-hitter on August 30, 2015. The Dodgers faced the right-hander at Wrigley Field on May 31 of this year when he shut them out over seven innings, striking out eight and walking four. The Dodgers have not scored a run against Arrieta in 16 consecutive innings, and the last Dodger hit he allowed at Dodger Stadium was a Nick Punto double in 2013. Overall he is 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA against LA in four career starts.

Even though Arrieta is a formidable opposing starting pitcher, he hasn’t been quite as dominant since he pitched his way to the NL Cy Young Award in 2015, beating out Clayton Kershaw and spurring comparative arguments between the two NL aces. After shutting out the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game, he lost his final game in 2015 to the Mets in the NLCS, fatigue taking its toll.

He was still very good this season (18-8, 3.10 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 8.7 K/9), but batters hit .248 against him (4.60 ERA) in his final five games of the regular season. His 3.69 ERA since the All-Star Break, along with the fourth-highest tally of walks in the NL (76), reflected perhaps a bit of regression and some control issues since his dominant no-hitter — the only one in the majors this year — on April 21 in Cincinnati. Arrieta does come into the NLCS having thrown a significant less amount of innings this season than he had before last postseason, though, and he allowed just two runs on six hits over six innings in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Giants last Monday, a no-decision.

Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Reddick have both his home runs off Arrieta. Gonzalez has three hits including a home run and a stolen base (!) in the series so far.

The Dodgers will start Rich Hill in Game 3, followed by the rookie Julio Urias in Game 4 and Kenta Maeda in Game 5. However Dave Roberts has not ruled out the idea of using Clayton Kershaw on short rest for Game 5 instead of Maeda.

Hill will take on the original club that drafted him in the fourth round in 2002, a team he has only faced once in his carrer (a relief appearance). He was limited to six starts with the Dodgers due to blisters after being acquired from Oakland at the trade deadline, but he did flash moments of brilliance during that short span, going 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings.

The hopping left-hander made two starts for the Dodgers in the NLDS with mixed results. In the Game 2 loss to the Washington Nationals, he pitched 4 1/3 innings allowing four runs on six hits while striking out seven and walking two. In Game 5, the clincher, he pitched on short rest going 2 2/3 innings and allowed one run on three hits with six strikeouts and two walks. Hill will also have to be wary of Arrieta at the plate, as he hit a three-run home run to left field in the top of the second inning off Madison Bumgarner in Game 3 of the NLDS.

The Dodgers hope that Hill can go longer in his first career NLCS appearance than he did in his previous two NLDS starts. It is promising that his arsenal of off-speed pitches, including his multiple arm angles, have been challenging for opposing hitters so far, as evident from his 13 strikeouts thus far this postseason. The Dodgers’ bullpen has been impressive throughout the season and so far this postseason, but some help from the starting rotation would go a long way to take some pressure off Kenley Jansen and the relief crew who have worked 28 1/3 innings in seven games.

Then again, a win is a win.

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About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.