Saturday provided a pair of really solid matchup. Our ALCS saw the Astros streak out to a 2-0 lead while the Dodgers won a controversial—but not really—Game 1 at home.
Sunday brings Game 2 of the NLCS as we prepare for the final run to the World Series. Are you ready?
LHP Jon Lester (CHC) versus LHP Rich Hill (LAD) — 7:38 p.m. ET, TBS
Lester was terrific in relief in his last appearance for the Cubs. Though, he did pitch in both the team’s losses in the ALDS despite them moving on.
While it wasn’t a prototypical Lester season—4.33 ERA—he’s still most likely their preferred big-game pitcher. That looms large here. After all, the Cubs are in a 1-0 hole. And, will need to even things before heading back to Chicago to continue the series. Lester has been terrific in the postseason in his career. And, he’s spent a lot of time pitching in big October games. He has thrown 143.1 innings in the playoffs with a 2.57 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and fairly good rates across the board. Does he have another big game in his left arm? The Cubs surely hope so.
He’s been huge for them in the playoffs the last two years, including allowing just two earned runs over 21 innings (0.85 ERA) in the Division and Championship Series’ last year before allowing six earned runs in the World Series.
Hill was fine, but not great in his start against the Diamondbacks in the Division Series, allowing two earned runs in four innings on Oct. 7 as the Dodgers won 8-5 in Game 2.
It’ll be interesting to see how long he goes in this one. Not only due to his durability questions, but also based on the fact that the Dodgers bullpen—outside of Kenley Jansen—doesn’t appear to have a ton of trust from manager Dave Roberts. Sure, he likes guys like Tony Cingrani and Brandon Morrow, but if it’s a big spot against a righty in the fifth inning, does he lift Hill and go to one of those guys with a lot of the game left? Or does he ride it out? Or, does he go to Kenta Maeda like he has on two separate occasions this postseason?
When Hill is right and healthy, he is terrific. There’s little reason to believe he isn’t healthy. But, he’ll have to keep the walks in check to work deeper into the game before handing it off to the bridge to Jansen. Assuming things go to plan, that is.