Rookie Zastryzny could be big lefty weapon vs. Dodgers in NLCS
Another round of the playoffs, another rookie for the Cubs?
That could be the case if the Cubs add an extra bullpen arm to their playoff roster, as expected, for the National League Championship Series against the left-leaning Dodgers lineup.
Rob Zastryzny, who impressed as much for his poise as his 1.13 performance in eight appearances after a late-season callup, would join lefties Travis Wood and Mike Montgomery in the expanded pen (along with lefty closer Aroldis Chapman).
“If I get the chance, I’m more than ready for it,” said Zastryzny, who retired 11 of the 12 batters he faced in a long-relief appearance at Dodger Stadium Aug. 27 – against a lineup that included lefty hitters Chase Utley, Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Reddick, Joc Pederson and Andrew Toles.
“I felt very comfortable on the mound,” he said. “I watched the [Dodgers’ NLDS clincher Thursday], and I’ve thrown against them before. So it’d be them making adjustments, me making adjustments. They’re a great team.”
Zastryzny said Friday he hadn’t been told anything by the team. He also said he didn’t root for the Dodgers, despite what it could mean personally for him.
“Because it’s not about me. It’s about the team,” he said. “Things happened the way they happened, and if I get the chance I’ll be more than ready.”
Adding Zastryzny likely would mean dropping a lefty bench bat such as Tommy La Stella (one at-bat in NLDS) or Chris Coghlan (who played in three games).
Zastryzny would be the fourth rookie on the roster, joining right-hander Carl Edwards Jr., catcher Willson Contreras and outfielder Albert Almora Jr.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon proclaimed right-hander Kyle Hendricks’ forearm fit for pitching and announced his NLCS rotation will remain the same as in the NLDS: Jon Lester, Hendricks, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.
Arrieta, who faced Giants ace Madison Bumgarner in Game 3 of the NLDS, might find himself opposite Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in this one if the Dodgers play it cautious and push Kershaw back. That could also match them up in a decisive Game 7 on Oct. 23 if the series goes that far.