Dodgers, Cubs set lineups for NLCS Game 3
The Dodgers and Cubs have announced their starting lineups for tonight's Game 3 of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World, scheduled for 9 p.m. ET/8 CT/6 PT on TBS, with Javier Baez heading to Chicago's bench in favor of Kyle Schwarber.
The Dodgers are opting for a substitute package of Chase Utley, Andre Ethier and Joc Pederson -- who is 0-for-8 in his career against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks -- which removes Enrique Hernandez, John Forsythe and Charlie Culberson, who was included on the NLCS roster due to Corey Seager's back strain.
Yu Darvish, who had a 2.49 ERA away from home this season and won the clincher vs. the D-backs in Game 3 of the NL Division Series, starts at Wrigley Field, where he pitched just once and lost in 2016. Hendricks, who won his NLDS Game 1 start vs. the Nationals, takes the hill for the Cubs, who are trying to overcome an 0-2 deficit, something that has happened just five times in 47 such instances in LCS history. The Dodgers will look to remain unbeaten in these playoffs, as they look to set a franchise record with a sixth straight postseason win. Their five straight are tied with the 1959-63 Dodgers.
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The stagnant Cubs offense, which is hitting an MLB-worst .162 this postseason, have some lineup changes for Game 3, as Baez (0-for-19 these playoffs) was left out and Schwarber was inserted and bumped up to the two-hole. Schwarber started and batted seventh in Game 1 before seeing no action in Game 2. Kristopher Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras were each dropped down a spot from Game 2 to round out the heart of the order.
Bryant is 2-for-20 with 10 strikeouts his last five games, with a 44.3 percent whiff-to-swing rate in these playoffs, third highest, per Statcast™. Rizzo, the Cubs' catalyst against the Nationals, is hitless in his last 14 at-bats with six strikeouts.
Manager Joe Maddon has opted to keep left-handed-hitting Jonathan Jay in center field over Albert Almora Jr. against Darvish, who was spectacular in his lone postseason start against Arizona in the NLDS.
Darvish may have an edge against a Cubs lineup that's highly inexperienced against him. Among Cubs starters, only Benjamin Zobrist has more than three career plate appearances against Darvish, and he's a .167 hitter in 12 at-bats. The Dodgers' righty, who was acquired at the non-waiver Trade Deadline to make significant October starts such as these, is 3-0 with an 0.74 ERA over his last four outings. He's made just one career start against the Cubs, in July 2016, in which he gave up two earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in a defeat while pitching for the Rangers.
Game 3 will mark the second start at second base this postseason for Zobrist, who started there in Game 3 of the NLDS. Maddon wanted one more lefty in the lineup against Darvish, which is why he started Zobrist, a switch-hitter. If the Cubs get the lead, expect Baez on the field for defense.
"If we grab a lead, you've got to get him out there," Maddon said of Baez. "This kid is so good and such a big part of us. We have to keep moving forward. We have to keep playing to get him right."
For the Dodgers, Chris Taylor will play shortstop, a position at which he made 10 regular-season starts, and retain his spot at leadoff. Yasiel Puig has been moved up to cleanup, a spot at which he was experimented with some in April. Puig is 2-for-5 with a homer and three walks in the first two games of the series.
- Chris Taylor, SS
- Cody Bellinger, 1B
- Justin Turner, 3B
- Yasiel Puig, RF
- Andre Ethier, LF
- Chase Utley, 2B
- Austin Barnes, C
- Joc Pederson, CF
- Yu Darvish, P
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Jon Jay, CF
- Addison Russell, SS
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Kyle Hendricks, P