LOS ANGELES — The blueprint of the Dodgers’ plan to get back to the World Series for the first time in 28 years was already on display earlier in the National League Championship Series, just a few days ago really. For the Dodgers to eliminate the Cubs they need Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen and Rich Hill to pitch nearly all the innings of Games 6-7 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
For inspiration, the Dodgers can turn back the clock to Sunday and Tuesday, when they shut out the Cubs 1-0 in Game 2 and 6-0 in Game 3, with that trio recording 91 percent of the outs.
Kershaw, Hill and Jansen pitched 16⅓ innings in those two games. They will likely need a similar ratio to prevail twice in Chicago.
Those three have a combined 3.73 ERA and 2.08 FIP this postseason, with 59 strikeouts and 15 walks in 44 innings. In the NLCS they have a 0.00 ERA and 1.50 FIP.
Through 10 playoff games, the Dodgers bullpen has pitched 42 innings in 44 appearances, and it’s taking a toll. The group has allowed 25 runs (20 earned runs) on 41 hits, a 4.29 ERA and 4.17 FIP, with 19 walks and 46 strikeouts.
In the NLCS, the bullpen ERA is 5.95.
The bullpen allowed seven runs in the Game 5 loss.
"It has been a battle. Those guys over there, they compete and the don’t give many at-bats away," manager Dave Roberts said of the Cubs. "They spoil pitches, they run counts. So when you do make a mistake these guys can slug.
"I’m not going to shy away from any of these guys [in the bullpen]. But obviously you look at going into Game 6, Kenley’s going to have a few days off, and we’ve got our ace going. So it will give our guys a chance to reset. But again, these guys have gotten big outs for us all year long."
But it starts with Kershaw, who was brilliant in his Game 2 win on Sunday, with seven scoreless innings in a 1-0 win. In Game 6, he will be on five days rest.
"It's kind of nice," Kershaw said. "Haven't had that in a while, so it's good."
Adrian Gonzalez on #Cubs back-to-back wins by combined 18-6: "We can grab back that momentum with one name -- Kershaw."— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) October 21, 2016
Gonzalez cont: "We don't want to put it all on him. Obviously, we have to get him some runs."— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) October 21, 2016
"For us, it’s an isolated focus on Game 6," Roberts said. "We get a rested Kersh, so with that we feel good."
The start time for Game 6 on Saturday is 5:08 p.m. PT, and should there be a Game 7 on Sunday, that would also be played at 5:08 p.m.