Major League Baseball and its fans couldn’t have asked for much more in the first two games of the 2016 National League Championship Series.

The Chicago Cubs took a step toward ending their World Series curse in Game 1 when Miguel Montero hit a dramatic, game-winning grand slam in the eighth inning off the bench. The Los Angeles Dodgers answered in Game 2 with seven shutout innings from the dominant Clayton Kershaw to tie the series at a game apiece.

This NLCS of iconic locales now shifts from Wrigley Field to Dodger Stadium for Games 3-5.

With that in mind, here is a look at an updated schedule with broadcast information (courtesy of before delving into a series prediction.


Series Prediction

Chicago’s bats were invisible in Game 2, but there are still plenty of reasons to like the 103-win team moving forward in this series.

For one, the Cubs shouldn’t be intimidated playing on the road after they knocked out the 2010, 2012 and 2014 World Series champion San Francisco Giants in Game 4 of the division series at AT&T Park.

They also have some favorable pitching matchups to rely on, which comes as no surprise for the team that led all of baseball in ERA this year.

Jake Arrieta will take the ball in Game 3. Last year’s National League Cy Young winner already has a no-hitter in his career at Dodger Stadium and will get some run support from his offense against lefty Rich Hill. The Cubs finished third in the league with 220 runs scored and second in the league with a .807 OPS against southpaws this season.

Elsewhere, Chicago’s John Lackey is a battle-tested veteran with 24 postseason appearances on his resume and a 3.22 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in those contests. The Cubs also have Cy Young candidates Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks available for later in the series after the two combined to allow two earned runs in 11.1 innings in the first two games.

Los Angeles’ Kenta Maeda will pitch at least one more time in this series, and Chicago already scored three runs against him in four innings in its Game 1 victory. He also allowed four earned runs in three innings in his division-series start against the Washington Nationals.

Despite some advantages on paper for the Cubs, Kershaw looms over this series.

He already proved he can shut down the Chicago offense on Sunday and demonstrated his mettle in the division series against the Nationals when he started Game 4 with the Dodgers’ backs against the wall and then came out of the bullpen to register the pressure-packed save in Game 5.

New York Times best-selling author Molly Knight put Kershaw’s Game 2 performance from this series into perspective:

Considering he has three Cy Youngs and a National League MVP on his sparkling resume, that is saying something about his outing that prevented the Dodgers from falling into a daunting 2-0 hole in the first two games at Wrigley.

In theory, he can start one or possibly even two more games in this series or be used as a weapon out of the bullpen if needed.

Still, the thought here is that some of the Chicago bats that have been hibernating will wake up enough during the rest of the NLCS against the other pitchers for the Cubs to clinch their first World Series appearance since 1945.

Anthony Rizzo was one of the best players in all of baseball this year and slashed .292/.385/.544 with 32 home runs and 109 RBI. However, he is mired in an abysmal 1-for-23 slump with six strikeouts in the postseason.

Catcher David Ross didn’t seem too concerned, per Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times: “People just need to stay positive—this is Anthony Rizzo we’re talking about. I told him I’ve seen David Ortiz not do well in the playoffs, and the next thing you know, he’s World Series MVP.”

Rizzo isn’t the only one the Cubs need to bust out of a slump. Addison Russell drilled 21 home runs and tallied 95 RBI from the shortstop position this year, but he is just 1-for-22 in the postseason.

If those two get going alongside an already red-hot Kris Bryant (slashing .333/.385/.625 in the playoffs) and Javier Baez (slashing .391/.417/.609 in the playoffs), Chicago will have enough of an advantage on the mound and at the plate when Kershaw isn’t pitching to win three of the final five games.      


Prediction: Chicago wins in seven games.

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