Advertisement

Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta is tough, and he could benefit from twilight during Game 3

Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta is tough, and he could benefit from twilight during Game 3
Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta works during his no-hitter against the Dodgers on Aug. 30, 2015. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The mid-October late afternoon sun won't produce the intense shadows in Chavez Ravine that it does in late August, and that should provide a degree of comfort for Dodgers hitters in Tuesday's National League Championship Series game against the Chicago Cubs.

The last time Jake Arrieta started a 5 p.m. game in Dodger Stadium, on Aug. 30, 2015, the Cubs right-hander threw a no-hitter with 12 strikeouts.

Advertisement

There were virtually no shadows in the Dodger Stadium infield at 5 p.m. on Monday, when the Dodgers began their off-day workout in advance of Game 3 in a best-of-seven series that is tied, 1-1.

But Arrieta, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 2015 and went 18-8 with a 3.10 earned-run average this season, could still benefit from twilight conditions in the first few innings.

"It can be difficult to pick up spin, especially once the shadows creep in between the mound and home plate," Arrieta said. "From a pitching perspective, you want to be aggressive early because it's a little bit more difficult to pick up some rotation and spin on pitches."

Arrieta has an impressive four-pitch mix consisting of a 94-mph fastball, an 89-mph cut fastball, an 87-mph changeup and an 80-mph curve. In his only start against the Dodgers this season, he allowed two hits over seven shutout innings in Wrigley Field on May 31, when the Dodgers won, 5-0.

Chase Utley and Joc Pederson are a combined 0 for 19 against Arrieta. Josh Reddick is four for nine (.444) with a homer, but those at-bats came in 2010 and 2011, when Reddick played for the Boston Red Sox and Arrieta was a less accomplished pitcher with Baltimore.

"His velocity is up, every pitch is a plus pitch now, and he throws any pitch in any count," Reddick said. "He's learned how to pitch."

Reddick said Arrieta could be tougher to hit in the gloaming of a 5 p.m. start, "but they have the same problem over there too," he said. "We have Rich [Hill] going, and they're going to have to deal with that."

Sign language

Cubs utilityman Ben Zobrist was more than amused by Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal's assertion that Zobrist, after a leadoff double in the eighth inning of Game 1, was relaying signs to batter Addison Russell.

"I think it's hilarious," Zobrist said Monday. "I was not stealing signs. But I appreciate him thinking my baseball IQ is that high."

Grandal said his numerous trips to the mound while Clayton Kershaw pitched in the division series were not because he had trouble communicating with the ace. "We are literally paranoid when it comes to men on second and they are trying to get signs," he said.

That was apparent to Zobrist, who said, "I guess he used the right word when he said almost all catchers are a little bit paranoid about that."

Are Dodgers coaches seeing any evidence of the Cubs stealing signs?

Advertisement

"If they are, it wouldn't be a surprise," Manager Dave Roberts said. "There are many clubs we've played against who do the same thing. That's part of the game."

Night moves

Cubs Manager Joe Maddon hinted at possible changes in the middle of his order, where No. 3 batter Anthony Rizzo is hitting .043 (one for 23), cleanup man Zobrist is batting .182 (four for 22) and No. 5 batter Russell is hitting .045 (one for 22) in six playoff games.

Chicago is also batting .157 (14 for 89) against left-handers, and with the left-handed Hill and Julio Urias scheduled to pitch Games 3 and 4 for the Dodgers, Maddon could turn to right-handed hitting outfielders Jorge Soler and Albert Almora or possibly Willson Contreras.

"There's only so much you can possibly do when it comes to manipulating your lineup," Maddon said. "I mean, these are the guys who got you here. We've got a bunch of All-Stars out there.

"Some guys are struggling, but part of it, I think, is due to the fact that we've seen [Madison] Bumgarner, [Jeff] Samardzija, Matt Moore and [Johnny] Cueto, and then we saw Kershaw [Sunday] night. There's a lot of Cy Young candidates among that group."

By the numbers

Kershaw and closer Kenley Jansen have combined to throw 19 2/3 of 35 innings in the last four games, and they have recorded 80 of 183 outs — almost 44% — in seven postseason games. … From the Elias Sports Bureau: Before Kershaw, the last pitcher to throw at least 19 1/3 innings in four playoff games over a 10-day span was Orel Hershiser in 1988. … In six post-season games, Cubs pitchers have gone three for 10 with two homers and six runs batted in.

Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna

Advertisement
Advertisement