LOS ANGELES DODGERS (109-58)
at CHICAGO CUBS (95-74)
NLDS Ė Game 5 Ė Wrigley Field Ė Chicago, IL
First pitch: Thursday, 8:08 p.m. ET
Line: Los Angeles -160, Chicago +150, Total: 7.0
Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers will be looking to advance to the World Series with a Game 5 victory over the Cubs in Chicago on Thursday.
The Dodgers had a chance to sweep the Cubs on Wednesday, but Chicago was able to gut out a 3-2 victory to keep the series alive. Los Angeles now sends LHP Clayton Kershaw (18-4, 2.31 ERA, 202 K) to hill on Thursday and the expectation is that the ace will end the Cubs once and for all. Kershaw had yet another remarkable regular season, but he has not looked like himself in the playoffs. That has been the case for the entirety of his career, so you know that Kershaw will want to turn in a stellar performance and change the narrative here. Starting for the Cubs, meanwhile, is LHP Jose Quintana (11-11, 4.15 ERA, 207 K). The lefty is far from being the pitcher that Kershaw is during the regular season, but he has been extremely reliable for the Cubs in the postseason thus far. Itíll be interesting to see whether or not he can find a way to outduel Kershaw in this one. Itís worth noting that the Dodgers have been able to play this well without SS Corey Seager (Back). Seager is arguably the teamís best player, so one would think that might catch up to them at some point.
Clayton Kershaw allowed just two earned runs in five innings of work last start, but that is still a disappointment by his standards. Kershaw is considered by many to be the best pitcher to ever toe the rubber, but he has really never had a signature postseason moment for Los Angeles. The team is still waiting on the ace to go eight or nine innings and completely blank the other team, but that has not happened yet. Perhaps it will on Thursday, as this game has a bit less pressure than most. The Dodgers would still be leading the series with a loss on Thursday, so itís not like this is a situation where he can hurt his team to no end. Offensively, one guy that might be able to spark Los Angeles here is 2B Logan Forsythe. Forsythe is batting .357 for the Dodgers in the postseason, and he also happens to be 5-for-11 with three doubles, a homer and five RBI against Jose Quintana in his career. That type of experience will be much needed on Thursday, and look for him to make an impact.
The Cubs will be trying to extend their season with a victory on Thursday and they probably feel as though they have the right guy on the mound here. Quintana has been a stud for Chicago in the postseason, as he has allowed just two earned runs in 11.1 innings of work for the team. He has always had impressive stuff, but it seems as though he is finally starting to put it all together. It would be big for Chicago if Quintana can give them another five or so big innings on Thursday. And on offense, itíd be nice if the Cubs can get some production out of 3B Kris Bryant and 1B Anthony Rizzo. The two of them have combined to go 7-for-21 with a double, three homers and six RBI against Kershaw in their careers. The Cubs will need them to continue that success against the lefty on Thursday.