The Dodgers got their split in Chicago, and now are back home for three home games against the Cubs and a chance to take control of the National League Championship Series. First comes an opportunity for Rich Hill to be Rich Hill in Game 3 on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers starters this offseason are averaging 4⅔ innings per start, but take out Kershaw and the group is averaging just 3.5 innings, with Hill and Kenta Maeda totaling seven innings each in their two starts.
Hill went 2⅔ innings in Game 5, though that was a planned shortened outing on short rest. His other start in the NLDS lasted 4⅓ innings, felled by a three-run home run on a hanging curve to Jose Lobaton and a rally one inning later.
It was Hill’s shortest real start since April 15 with Oakland, not counting his July 17 start when he left during the first batter because of blister problems.
With three straight days of baseball ahead, and 20-year-old Julio Urias slotted in Game 4 on Wednesday, it would behoove Hill to pitch as deep as he can to help conserve the Dodgers bullpen, not to mention increasing the Dodgers’ chances of winning Game 3 itself.
"For me, I go out there and give everything that I have, that's it. That's the bottom line. Your effort is everything," Hill said on Monday. "Your ability to go out there and stay in the moment and execute pitch to pitch and do the best that you can, that's it. Let everything else fall where it may. But the W at the end of the day is all that matters."
Since joining the Dodgers in August, Hill allowed one run in 17 innings in three starts at Dodger Stadium, with 18 strikeouts and three walks. Tuesday will mark almost a month since his last home start, on Sept. 20 against the Giants.
On offense, the Dodgers will have their hands full with Jake Arrieta, who pitched seven scoreless innings against them on May 31 at Wrigley Field, and pitched a no-hitter in his last start at Dodger Stadium, on Aug. 31, 2015.
Arrieta followed up his superhuman 2015 with a very good 2016, putting up a 3.10 ERA and 3.52 FIP, with 190 strikeouts in 197⅓ innings. He also had a 4.44 ERA in his last 16 starts (hooray for selective end points!), allowing four or more runs eight times in those final 16 starts.
After pitching a shutout in the 2015 Wild Card Game, Arrieta allowed four runs in his next two playoff starts last year. This year he allowed two runs in six innings in Game 3 of the NLDS. He said he felt physically and mentally drained at this time last season.
"I think going through that last year has prepared myself as well as the rest of the guys mentally for a longer run this year, and I think we've been able to handle the moments mentally a lot better as well as physically," Arrieta said. "So personally moving forward, I think I'm in a much better place, and I think a lot of our guys are as well."
Arrieta in four career playoff starts has 33 strikeouts and one walk in 25⅔ innings.
Dodger Stadium gates (stadium and parking lot) open at 2:08 p.m. PT before Game 3. ... Rick Monday will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and Steve Yeager will catch it.
NLCS Game 3 info
Cubs and Dodgers tied, 1-1
Time: 5:08 p.m. PT
TV: Fox Sports 1 (Joe Buck, John Smoltz, Ken Rosenthal)
Local radio: 570 AM (Charley Steiner and Rick Monday)
National radio: ESPN Radio (Dan Shulman, Aaron Boone)