The Dodgers could have used an extra day of rest after that marathon nine-inning victory over the Washington Nationals.
All-Star closer Kenley Jansen’s legs were sore the day after he threw a career high 51 pitches before letting Clayton Kershaw finish off the Nats. But manager Dave Roberts expects Jansen (1.83 ERA, 47 saves) to be available for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Kershaw, who started Games 1 and 4 (on three days rest) before playing Superman and recording the final two outs in Game 5 of the NLDS, was not officially announced for Game 2 of the NLCS but Roberts implied Kershaw will get the nod against Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks.
“Clayton came through well,’’ Roberts said. “He and his teammates were really excited he got the last two outs of that game. Physically, he feels great.
“He’s tracking to start when we all think.’’
As for Jansen, he told Roberts his arm was fine but his legs were “really fatigued.’’
“He uses his lower half really well,’’ Roberts said. “So for me, just right now, I expect him available.’’
But likely not for more than one inning, Roberts said, and probably only in a ninth-inning save situation.
Former Cub Rich Hill, 36, and 20-year-old rookie Julio Urias, who shined in relief against the Nationals in Game 5, are the best bets to pitch Games 3 and 4 in Los Angeles against Jake Arrieta and John Lackey, respectively. In that event, the Dodgers would be sending three straight lefties against the Cubs after Game 1 starting right-hander Kenta Maeda, who will start on regular rest against Jon Lester. Maeda pitched only three innings against the Nats in Game 3 of the NLDS.
The Cubs have never faced Maeda and Hill and did not face Kershaw this season, which could bode well for the Dodgers. The Cubs slashed .185/.239/.308 against Giants lefties in the NLDS and have had trouble with Dodgers left-handers this year.
The Dodgers’ caught the Cubs’ attention this year, prompting Ben Zobrist to say after a 1-0 loss on Aug. 28 that they would be a tough postseason matchup because of “all the lefties they have.”
“We have to do a better job against lefties overall,” Zobrist said at the time. “Figuring out how to just get more runners on base. We tend to rely on the homer a little bit too much. And in those situations where maybe we’re not as good of a home run hitting team against those guys we have to find a way to take our hits and hit line drives around the park.”
“Their pitching, bullpen really match up,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Significant righties and lefties. They’re good.
NOTE: Roberts said he would likely go with 13 pitchers on his roster.