Before the 2016 National League Championship Series shifts back to Wrigley Field, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs will battle one more time in L.A. The Dodgers host the Cubs in Game 5 of the NLCS with the series tied 2-2.
Chicago will be sending their ace to the mound, but the Dodgers are saving their top starter for Game 6 on Saturday. Clayton Kershaw won’t pitch on three days’ rest like he did in the NLDS against the Washington Nationals. Instead, it’ll be Kenta Maeda going for L.A. against Jon Lester.
Even though the Dodgers are home, Lester gives the Cubs the clear advantage to take the series lead. He might win the NL Cy Young award, and he’s pitched like the league’s top starter in the playoffs. After throwing eight shutout innings in the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, Lester allowed just one run in six innings in the NLCS opener. The Dodgers’ hitters have a .184 career average against Lester with one home run in 125 at-bats.
Maeda had a 3.48 ERA in the regular season, but he’s struggled this postseason. He allowed four runs in just three innings of work in his one NLDS appearance, and Maeda was pulled after four innings in Game 1 against Chicago when he surrendered three runs and allowed seven baserunners.
The Cubs’ bats went silent in Game 2 and Game 3, failing to score in both games. But the team that finished second in the NL in runs during the regular season scored 10 runs in Game 4 on Wednesday night. Most importantly for Chicago, a couple of their best hitters broke out of their playoff slumps.
Combining for just three postseason hits before Game 4, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell had three hits each on Wednesday. Both players homered, and Rizzo drove in three runs, looking like the first baseman that was an MVP candidate over 162 games.
With the better starting pitcher and a lineup that could be back to regular-season form, the Cubs are road favorites. They have -155 betting odds, while the Dodgers are +142 underdogs at Las Vegas and online sportsbooks, via OddsShark.
Game 5 of the NLCS is scheduled for 8 p.m. EDT on FS1. Those who can’t watch the contest on TV can tune in with a free live stream online with FOX Sports Go.
Prediction: Chicago over Los Angeles, 5-2