LOS ANGELES DODGERS (110-58)
at CHICAGO CUBS (95-75)
NLDS – Game 4 – Wrigley Field – Chicago, IL
First pitch: Wednesday, 9:05 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
The Dodgers have a shot to sweep and advance to the World Series with a victory over the Cubs on Wednesday.
Many thought that an elimination game would bring the best out of the Cubs, but they ended up folding on Tuesday. The Dodgers dominated Game 3, winning 6-1 at Wrigley. Los Angeles can now put away Chicago, which one would have to imagine is a very strong possibility. The Cubs obviously don’t want to be swept, but there’s definitely going to be a feeling that they let this series slip away already. It’s extremely tough to come back from a 3-0 series deficit, especially when you would have to win multiple games on the road. The Dodgers also seemingly have the edge on the mound here, as LHP Alex Wood (16-3, 2.72 ERA, 151 K) is starting for Los Angeles. RHP Jake Arrieta 0-1, 0.0 ERA, 4 K in one postseason start) is going for Chicago, which isn’t necessarily the worst of news for them. He’s a good pitcher, but Wood was phenomenal all year. The one thing that does tilt in Arrieta’s favor is the fact that he has already started a game in the playoffs this year. This is Wood’s first appearance and nerves could get the best of him.
The Dodgers are a win away from making it to the World Series, but it might not be easy for them to earn that one. The Cubs are going to be playing for pride and they know what it’s like to come back in a big series, as they were down 3-1 in the World Series a year ago. That means that Los Angeles will need a good outing from Wood here, and his regular season performance suggests that he should be up to the task. Wood allowed two or fewer earned runs in 19 of his appearances for the Dodgers this year. He was probably their most reliable starter after Kershaw, which makes it amazing that he’s their fourth starter in the postseason. Wood also happens to have pitched well in his most recent outing against the Cubs, as he shut them out for five innings on May 26. He struck out eight batters in that game, so he should be pretty confident here. On offense, look for both 1B Cody Bellinger and 3B Justin Turner to show up here. They are two of the most dangerous hitters that the Dodgers have and they know they need to do what they can to help this team move on.
The Cubs need a victory on Wednesday, so Jake Arrieta will need to have a big night on the mound for Chicago. He was solid in his only other start this postseason, as he allowed no earned runs in 4.0 innings of work in a loss to the Nationals last series. Arrieta did, however, walk five batters in that game. If he does that again on Wednesday then this game could get out of hand, as the Dodgers tend to come up with timely hits more often than the Nationals do. Arrieta will also need to be thinking about outdueling Wood, which is pretty much a must on Wednesday. And on offense, the Cubs can kiss this series goodbye if 3B Kris Bryant and 1B Anthony Rizzo don’t show up here. Bryant did, however, go 2-for-4 in Tuesday’s loss, so perhaps he is snapping out of his funk at the plate. The team desperately needs him to start driving in runs, but that also requires his teammates to be on when he gets up.