LOS ANGELES -- It was late Friday when Cubs manager Joe Maddon found Jonathan Lester with his family at the team hotel. He asked the pertinent questions: How do you feel? Are you ready to go for National League Championship Series Game 2 presented by Camping World?
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Lester, who will start tonight on short rest after throwing 55 pitches in relief in National League Division Series Game 4 presented by T-Mobile against the Nationals, left no doubt about his ability to rally the Cubs back from a 1-0 series deficit.
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"I have all the faith in the world," Maddon said. "You have to trust your guys. You have to trust the conversation and I do. Jonny said he feels great, so Jonny's pitching.
"And furthermore, this time of the year, these kind of battle-tested guys under these circumstances -- they look for these moments."
Major League Baseball's active leader in postseason innings, wins and strikeouts, Lester is nothing if not battle-tested. This marks the 33-year-old's eighth postseason and sixth LCS. Tonight will mark his 25th career playoff outing and 21st start, nearly half of them coming the past three Octobers with the Cubs.
Overall in the postseason, Lester is 9-7 with a 2.57 ERA in 143 1/3 innings, the seventh-highest total in MLB history. With three more, Lester will pass Whitey Ford for sixth place on that list.
"You get out there in these games, and the adrenaline and excitement kind of take over," Lester said. "So you don't really worry about how tired you are. You just try to play baseball."
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This is hardly Lester's first October outing on short rest. Just last year, he threw six strong innings to win World Series Game 5, then returned on two days' rest to throw three more in relief in Game 7.
Overall in his postseason career, Lester holds a 1.86 ERA on short rest.
"I'm not worried about it," he said. "I don't think it's a problem. This time of year, you have to adjust and figure it out. We'll do that [Sunday]."
The greater challenge for Lester may be attacking a Dodgers lineup that tagged him for six runs in 3 1/3 innings in their last meeting back in May. Although one of the primary troublemakers in that game, shortstop Corey Seager, is off the Dodgers' NLCS roster due to injury, Enrique Hernandez (4-for-14, two home runs), Cody Bellinger (1-for-2, one home run) and others have done damage against him in the past.
None of that figures to faze Lester, who went 13-8 with a 4.33 ERA during the regular season, starting at least 31 games for the 10th consecutive year. No active player has more postseason experience than Lester. It's hard to imagine anyone could be more prepared.
"It will be a fun atmosphere here at Dodger Stadium," Lester said. "I know it will be packed, so it will be fun. I think once you get out there, you forget about everything and you just try to do your job."