Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts has not been shy about making pitching changes and may be inclined to make several trips to the mound Tuesday night. In two postseason games, southpaw Rich Hill was pulled without completing five innings and it wouldn't be surprising if Roberts yanks the Game 3 starter, who has been dealing with blisters, in the early innings against the Chicago Cubs.
Hill has a 2.12 ERA in 110.1 innings this season with the Oakland A's and Dodgers. But Roberts and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt allowed him to pitch seven innings just once in six regular-season starts. In that game against the Miami Marlins, Hill was throwing a perfect game and had struck out nine. Oakland, meanwhile, only allowed him to pitch seven or more innings twice in 13 starts.
Should Roberts pull Hill early again in the National League Championship Series, he has several capable options with a rested bullpen that includes veteran Joe Blanton, flamethrower Pedro Baez, and situational lefty Grant Dayton. Julio Urias could also be available, or he could start in Game 4.
"As unpredictable as these games are, with Rich going Game 3, and just the potential with the blister, we’re kind of not confirming yet," Roberts said. "Every game, we’ve still got to kind of figure out how to navigate."
As the 1-1 series shifts to Los Angeles, the Cubs appear to have the advantage on the mound. Jake Arrieta, winner of the 2015 Cy Young, is coming off a solid outing against the San Francisco Giants in the NL Division Series and will be pitching on seven days rest.
The 30-year-old throws an effective curveball, and his fastball reaches 96 miles per hour. His 3.10 ERA and 1.08 WHIP are among the best in baseball. In his only outing against the Dodgers, Arrieta threw seven scoreless innings while striking out eight on May 31 at Wrigley Field.
But Arrieta struggled in September and has a 3.59 ERA on the road. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have batted .772 OPS against right-handers compared to a .622 OPS against left-handers, and have stronger overall hitting numbers at home than on the road.
Star left-handed reliever Aroldis Chapman pitched in both games of the series, but Manager Joe Maddon will likely call upon his closer after getting rest on the travel day. While Hector Rondon has been a solid presence in relief, he has been less effective in recent games following his September return from elbow tightness.
"We tried to get him out there as much as we can," Maddon said of Rondon. "He and [Pedro] Strop are rested but not as sharp."
But the Cub bats might be the issue of most concern for Maddon. First baseman Anthony Rizzo has just one hit in 23 postseason at-bats to go along with a .197 OPS, while Addison Russell has only one hit in 22 at-bats and has not walked.
The Cubs were rescued by pinch-hitter Miguel Montero's grand slam in a game when they managed just three runs against Kenta Maeda and the Dodgers' pen through seven innings. Against Clayton Kershaw and closer Kenley Jansen in Game 2, the Cubs had just two hits and one walk.
The Dodgers could use a stronger effort from catcher Yasmani Grandal. The slugger hit 27 homers in the regular season but has two hits in the postseason and no RBI. Rookie superstar Corey Seager hasn't had a hit since Game 3 against the Washington Nationals.
Start Time: 8:08 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1
Betting Odds: Cubs -120, Dodgers +110
Prediction: Cubs over Dodgers, 3-2