Dodgers @ Cubs October 17, 2017: NLCS Game 3


I’m still on cloud nine after Justin Turner‘s walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 2 of the NLCS on Sunday, a historic sports moment that will forever be preserved in our collective memory as Dodger fans. After the Boys In Blue notched their fifth straight postseason victory, giving them a commanding 2-0 lead in the series, they now look to capture the National League pennant as early as Wednesday in the Windy City. First, they will have to battle both Kyle Hendricks and the ubiquitous ivy of Wrigley Field.

6:01 PM TBS
Barnes SS Russell
Darvish (R)
Hendricks (R)

Speaking of ivy, Yu Darvish (10-12, 3.86 ERA, 3.83 FIP) knows all too well that the Dodgers and their fans are itching to return to the Fall Classic, a goal 29 years in the making. Darvish makes his second postseason start as a Dodger on Tuesday in Game 3 of the NLCS. He showcased his talent, a skill-set Chicago manager Joe Maddon is well aware of from his time managing in the American League, in the clinching game of the NLDS in Arizona. Any past postseason woes with the Rangers for the right-hander were now in his rear-view mirror after he allowed just two hits over five innings while walking none and striking out seven in his dominant Dodger postseason debut.

The Dodgers look to Darvish to bring that same confidence to the NLCS against the reigning champs on their home turf, a tough task indeed. Since being acquired by the Dodgers at the non-waiver trade deadline in July, Darvish had a rocky August before regaining his effectiveness in September. Yu’s only made one career start against the Cubs, a 2-1 loss at Wrigley Field on July 16, 2016 when he was still with Texas. He allowed two runs on two hits with four walks and nine strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.

The Dodgers know Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.03 ERA, 3.88 FIP) well, and he was one of their formidable foes in last year’s NLCS, pitching in Game 2 and the knockout Game 6. The right-hander only allowed one run to the Dodgers on five hits in 12 2/3 innings of work to a tune of a 0.71 ERA in those two postseason starts. Hendricks is also coming off a solid showing in the NLDS vs. the Nationals, pitching seven shutout innings in the series opener. He did struggle a bit in Game 5, allowing four runs on nine hits including two home runs in four innings, but the Cubbies still went on to beat the Nats, 9-8.

So far the Cubs have faltered offensively in the first two games of the series. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Wilson Contreras went a combined 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts in Game 2. A lot of credit can be given to the Dodgers’ dominant bullpen. It’s a bullpen that has been great for most of the year, but often doesn’t get much credit. After all, Paul Goldschmidt only managed one hit off Dodger pitching in the NLDS, a solo home run off starter Rich Hill. That’s incredible in itself.

Along with the excellent pitching, the Dodgers are flexing their offensive muscle all while riding a fine-tuned balance between aggressiveness and patience. Yasiel Puig is a prime example, and it’s been thrilling to watch him ignite #MaximumPuig on the national stage (and irk Keith Olbermann) while hitting .438/.571/.875/1.446 so far this postseason. Even without Corey Seager, who hasn’t been cleared for baseball activities yet, the Dodgers have risen to the occasion and brought themselves within two wins of a World Series berth. Heck, even Charlie Culberson is contributing. He’s gone 2-for-5 with two runs in the series.


Both teams make some major lineup changes for the third installment of the NLCS as two right-handers in Darvish and Hendricks face off. Chris Taylor starts at shortstop, taking over for Charlie Culberson, who started both Game 1 and 2 in lieu of the injured Seager. In turn, Joc Pederson starts in center field and bats eighth.

Andre Ethier, the longest-tenured Dodger, makes his first start this postseason in left field and bats fifth. The start gives Dre 45 postseason appearances as a Dodger, tying him for second-most in Dodgers history along with Steve Garvey and Davey Lopes. Bill Russell has appeared in the most playoff games in Blue (49).

The other veteran, Utley, also gets a start at second base. Cody Bellinger moves up to the second spot in the lineup, ahead of Turner. Austin Barnes makes his fifth straight postseason start behind the plate. Yasmani Grandal has yet to appear in the NLCS at all, even as a pinch-hitter.

The Cubs also shuffled things around. Kyle Schwarber is in left field, Jason Heyward in right field, and Jon Jay is in center. Ben Zobrist starts at second base, leading off.

Make more historic memories, fellas.

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.