The Chicago Cubs blew it. Facing Rich Hill in Game 3, who wasn't all that sharp in the NLDS against Washington, the Cubs were terrible. Chicago lost 0 to 6 to Hill and the Dodgers in Game 3.
What it means is that the Cubbies are in a 1 to 2 NLCS hole versus the Dodgers. Does the best team from the regular season have any shot at winning Game 4 and evening the National League Championship Series? Keep reading for my take!
NLCS Game 4: Cubs at Dodgers (LA leads
When: Wed., Oct. 19 at 7:45 pm ET
Where: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
TV: FOX Sports 1
Listed Pitchers: CHC - John Lackey vs LAD - Julio Urias
Odds: Chicago Cubs -113 / L.A. Dodgers +103
Analysis: Did anybody expect this? The Chicago Cubs have managed to hit a serious rut at the plate during the NLCS. It's so bad that the Dodgers have run out to a 2-1 series lead. The only player who appears to be doing anything for Chicago is third baseman Kris Bryant.
The Dodgers' Rich Hill, not Clayton Kershaw, held Chicago to 2 hits in 6 innings on Oct. 18. He struck out 6 Cubbies while walking 2. The Cubs 2015 Cy Young Award winning pitcher Jake Arrieta wasn't nearly as formidable. Arrieta struggled with control issues during his 5 innings of work. He allowed 6 hits and gave up 4 earned runs including 2 homers. When it was all said in done, he struck out 5 batters. All told, Cubs' pitchers allowed 10 hits and 6 runs in Tuesday night's loss.
Can Chicago bounce back with a major win in Game 4? If the Cubbies don't win Game 4, forget about winning Game 5 or Game 6. Clayton Kershaw is going to have to step to the mound eventually. Kershaw proved unhittable in his Game 2 domination of the Cubs.
The good news is that pitcher Julio Urias's best pitch is the fastball. He made Bryce Harper, who had a terrible season, look good in the NLDS. Urias should give the Cubs plenty of baseballs to hit. In fact, in 39 at-bats the Cubs had 14 hits against the lefty. Chicago bats .359 against Urias.
On the flip side, John Lackey takes the mound for Chicago. Lackey is an old pro. The Cubs need him to right the ship. From 102 at-bats, the Dodgers have only 24 hits off of Lackey. He's struck out 21 of 102 L.A. batters. Lackey's away ERA is 4.75. That could be an issue in this game. But Manager Joe Maddon has no choice. He has to put his faith into Lackey.
As Jayson Stark wrote on ESPN.com, the Cubs "moment of truth" has arrived. All great teams have to come back from adversity. Being down 2-1 with the prospect of facing Clayton Kershaw at least 1 more time in the NLCS means that the Cubs have to beat Urias and the Dodgers tonight. This is the Cubs moment to become the great team that everyone pegged them to be at the beginning of the 2016 MLB season.
My head tells me that the Cubs are through. That only Kris Bryant is playing with enough fire to get this team through this series. But my gut is telling me that the Cubbies are only a home run away, a 2 run or 3 run inning away, from righting the ship.
Lackey's presence on the mound, Anthony Rizzo finally getting a
hit in Game 3, knowing that ace John Lackey might pitch 2 more
times this series instead of just once more, and the presence of
young 20-year old Julio Urias on the mound is going to jump start
I think Maddon's club gets it done.
MLB Free Pick: Chicago Cubs 5, Los Angeles Dodgers 1