Jon Lester will start Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, the Chicago Cubs announced Thursday. The only question for the Cubs is whether Game 1 will be at Dodger Stadium or Citi Field, an issue that will resolve itself in tonight’s winner-take-all NLDS game between the Dodgers and Mets.
The Dodgers have only faced one left-handed starting pitcher in the postseason so far, Mets rookie Steven Matz in Game 4 on Tuesday. Lester is anything but a playoff newcomer, having pitched 91 career postseason innings to a 2.66 earned-run average in his career. Lester, 31, went 11-12 with a 3.34 ERA in his first season with the Cubs.
Looking two steps ahead, the Dodgers’ history against Lester falls into one of two camps: Those who haven’t faced Lester a lot, and those who have not hit him well.
CHICAGO — For the second straight year, the Starbucks across the street from Wrigley Field got a visit from a uniformed Dodgers rookie.
Joc Pederson, Mike Bolsinger and Adam Liberatore sojourned boldly into the air-conditioned confines this morning, absorbing the smells of espresso into their road-gray polyester threads. (You figure that Carlos Frias was excused because he is starting today against the Cubs.)
Pederson made a full-uniform run last September too. Call it a new tradition.
Of course, the moment isn’t quite embarrassing enough unless it’s shared on social media:
CHICAGO — Right fielder Yasiel Puig was scratched from the Dodgers’ lineup for the second consecutive day because of an open callus on the palm of his left hand.
Puig might be available to pinch run or pinch hit; manager Don Mattingly addressed his status this morning:
Alex Guerrero is playing left field, Scott Van Slyke is in right, and Alberto Callaspo was inserted to the lineup as the Dodgers’ third baseman. Here’s the full lineup for the 1 p.m. game against the Cubs:
CHICAGO — Justin Turner said he doesn’t consider himself a prototypical number-three hitter, but he did a prototypical number-three hitter thing in the Dodgers’ 5-2 win over the Cubs. The box score is here.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has his eye on starting pitching as the trade deadline approaches.
Here are a few interviews from after the game:
CHICAGO — Yasiel Puig was scratched from the Dodgers’ starting lineup minutes before the scheduled first pitch Wednesday night against the Cubs.
Puig has been dealing with a popped blister on his left hand, about the size of a half-dollar, since Monday.
The Dodgers have not officially commented on the reason why Puig was scratched.
Update (7:30 p.m.): Puig was scratched due to an open callus on his left hand, the team confirmed.
Alex Guerrero is now batting fifth and playing left field and Andre Ethier is playing right field.