The Los Angeles Dodgers survived a thrilling five-game series with the Washington Nationals to earn a berth in the 2016 National League Championship Series. Now they prepare to face baseball’s only 100-win team, the Chicago Cubs, for a spot in the World Series.

Chicago is the championship favorite heading into MLB‘s penultimate playoff round. The Cubs check in with 29-20 odds, while the Dodgers are the long shot of the final four at 5-1, according to Odds Shark.

The outlook would begin to shift if Los Angeles steals Game 1 on the road, though. So let’s check out all of the important details for the series opener. That’s followed by a game preview and a prediction for which club will grab the 1-0 lead.


Viewing Information

Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago

When: Saturday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. ET

Watch: Fox Sports 1

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go



Game Preview

Not only were the Cubs the best team during the regular season, but they also had the benefit of closing out their Division Series triumph over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday. It gave them a chance to rest their pitchers and align their staff for the NLCS.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers were forced to pull out all the stops, highlighted by using ace Clayton Kershaw as a closer in Game 5, to get past the Nationals. They must quickly turn the page and try to upset the most well-rounded team in the league.

Doug Padilla of ESPN passed along comments from Kershaw about the elation of winning and rapidly trying to shift the focus to Chicago:

We’re going to Chicago, and our mind is completely shifted to beating the Cubs. They are a pretty solid team, from what I understand, and so I think we’ve got to really enjoy this one for, I mean, shoot, what is it 1:30 [a.m.] already? We’ve got to enjoy this for a few more hours and then we’ve got to get on that plane and change our mindset for sure.

The situation puts an added layer of pressure on Game 1 starter Kenta Maeda. He struggled in his first postseason start, giving up four runs in three innings, but the onus is on him to keep the third-ranked Cubs offense at bay long enough for the Dodgers to find their legs after a whirlwind few days.

That’s easier said than done. Chicago put up 16 runs over the final three games of its series against a Giants team that finished fourth in ERA during the regular season.

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune noted Cubs manager Joe Maddon stated the Dodgers present their own challenges, including a rotation that’s deeper than just Kershaw, but that he still likes the vibe from his club:

And you don’t want to see all these other dudes. So this time of year, you just see good pitching. That’s what this time of the year means.

I honestly believe our guys will be equal to the challenge. I know they’re going to be ready. We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves.

Maddon will turn to Jon Lester to get things started on the right foot for Chicago. He enjoyed a strong regular season, going 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA in 32 starts, and his postseason track record (2.63 ERA in 17 games) is equally promising.

One thing’s for sure: Whichever team wins the series is going to end an extended drought, as Tony Lastoria of Indians Baseball Insider pointed out:

Although the Cubs are the rightful favorites, they are far from a World Series lock. The Dodgers showcased their depth and resiliency to come back from 2-1 down against Washington, and having Kershaw is the ultimate equalizer in a playoff series.

At least for Game 1, however, Chicago should quite comfortably have the edge. They are rested and have the pitching advantage after getting some time to recover at home while the Dodgers have needed to travel to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Prediction: 5-2 Cubs


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