John Lackey, the active major league leader in postseason starts, is pitching this game for the Chicago Cubs. He had an unexpectedly tremendous 2016 season, and, despite the fact that he’ll turn 38 this weekend, is likely to be a value for his $16 million salary in 2017.
He started by inducing a standard-issue flyout to right from Chase Utley, then hit Corey Seager in the foot with a cutter. Justin Turner, following, nearly grounded into a double play, but reached and was awarded second on an errant throw from Cubs second baseman Javier Baez.
Julio Urias, 20, took the mound at Dodger Stadium for Game 4 of the NLCS after some banda music was played behind home plate. This is a momentous occasion for Mexican fans of this franchise. Thirty-five years ago today, the Dodgers won another NLCS game started by a 20-year-old Mexican left-hander, one Fernando Valenzuela.
Urias began this game by pumping a 93-mph fastball for a strike to Dexter Fowler. He missed with his next fastball, clocked at 94 mph, then returned with another 94-mph heater, fouled off by Fowler. He reared back to reach 95 mph and induced a groundout to first base.
Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts was asked before Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday if there were any circumstances in which he would consider starting ace Clayton Kershaw on short rest in Game 5.
“No, no, Kenta,” Roberts said, asserting that right-hander Kenta Maeda would start against the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 on Thursday no matter where the series stood after four games.
Roberts will have to forgive those who are thinking, “Yeah, right.” The day after Kershaw threw 110 pitches over 6 2/3 innings on three days rest in an NL division series Game 4 win over Washington on Oct. 11, Roberts said Kershaw would “absolutely not” be available to pitch in relief in Game 5.