The Dodgers arrived at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon, and before a light workout in Chicago, manager Dave Roberts met with reporters in his daily press conference. Among other things, he named Kenta Maeda the starter for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, on Saturday night against the Cubs.
Clayton Kershaw, who started Tuesday and earned a save on his between-starts throw day on Thursday, came out of Game 5 of the NLDS fine physically, Roberts said. Though he stopped short of officially naming Kershaw his Game 2 starter — which would be Sunday, on regular rest for Kershaw — Roberts just smiled as he said, "He’s tracking to start when we all think."
Maeda had a fine season for the Dodgers, but his last three starts have been duds. He allowed eight runs in 6⅔ innings in a pair of starts during the season’s final week after the Dodgers already clinched the NL West, then in Game 3 of the NLDS lasted just three innings, allowing four more runs. That’s an 11.17 ERA in his last three starts.
Roberts said, rather amazingly, that Kenley Jansen, after a career-high 51-pitch, 7-out performance in Game 5, has some leg fatigue but would be available in Game 1 on Saturday, but noted likely not for more than an inning.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon earlier in the day named his rotation for the NLCS — Jon Lester in Game 1, followed by Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.
With the left-hander Lester starting Game 1, Roberts said he is considering starting Carlos Ruiz behind the plate, noting also how well he works with Maeda. Ruiz had two key pinch hits against lefties in the NLDS, but is 0-for-14 with a walk, hit by pitch and four strikeouts against Lester in his career.
"There's familiarity with Chooch and Kenta, obviously. But I do like the at-bats that Chooch can give us against left-handed pitching," Roberts said. "So I'm weighing through some things, but I can't say enough about Chooch and what he's done, not only in the two postseason at-bats, but what he's done for Yasmani, for Austin Barnes, for just everyone, the impact he's made in such a short time. "
Yasmani Grandal started all five games of the NLDS, but was 2-for-16 with three walks.
The Dodgers will submit their NLCS roster to MLB on Saturday morning, and the Dodgers will carry an extra pitcher, Roberts said, and are currently weighing options. The Dodgers carried 11 pitchers and 14 position players in the NLDS.
"We're going to go with an extra pitcher in the pen. And we haven't identified who," Roberts said. "And I think that, outside of that, we're trying to figure out what makes the most sense. So I think that, for right now, we know we're going to carry an extra pitcher."
Pitcher Brett Anderson and utility man Kiké Hernandez have joined the Dodgers in Chicago, and per Roberts are both considerations to be added to the roster. Hernandez is 3-for-12 (.250) against Lester in his career with a home run and a triple, the only player on the Dodgers with a home run against the southpaw.
Other potential additions likely include Alex Wood, Brock Stewart and J.P. Howell, all of whom traveled with the Dodgers during the NLDS, as did corner man Rob Segedin.
Andrew Friedman said he expects #Dodgers to make 2 to 4 changes for NLCS roster— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) October 14, 2016
Just a guess, but if the Dodgers add an extra position player, Austin Barnes seems most in jeopardy of losing his roster spot for the NLCS. He was used the least against Washington, appearing once as a pinch hitter and once as a pinch runner. On the latter, Barnes scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning of Game 5.