Less dominant Arrieta vs Hill as NLCS shifts to Los Angeles

ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 18, 2016 10:12 AM
Less dominant Arrieta vs Hill as NLCS shifts to Los Angeles
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta talks to reporters during a news conference ahead of Tuesday's Game 3 of the National League baseball championship series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — For Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, 2016 has been a year where less has proven to be more, as a reduced workload has put him in prime condition in the playoffs.

Arrieta, who will pitch Game 3 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, was a workhorse for the Cubs in 2015, pitching 229 innings and winning the National League's Cy Young Award as the top pitcher.

So manager Joe Maddon was a little anxious about the conversation in spring training this year, when he told Arrieta he'd be spending less time on the mound this year.

"But understand it's going to pay off in the latter part of the season," Maddon counseled his ace. "Our intention is to play deeply into October and possibly November this year."

Maddon knew Arrieta might just feel invincible after shouldering the burden of huge innings while compiling a 1.77 ERA. He didn't want the right-hander thinking he could pitch that much every year.

Arrieta bought into Maddon's plan, and it's gotten him to the NL Championship Series with 197 1/3 innings and a 3.10 ERA.

"I'm in a much better place," Arrieta said Monday before the Cubs worked out. "Going through that last year has prepared myself as well as the rest of the guys mentally for a longer run this year, and we've been able to handle the moments mentally a lot better as well as physically."

Tuesday's game will be at Dodger Stadium, where Arrieta threw his first career no-hitter last year. That game began shortly after 5 p.m., the same starting time as Game 3. Shadows can creep between the mound and home plate at that hour, which Arrieta believes favors the pitchers.

"From a pitching perspective, you want to be aggressive early because of the fact that it is a little more difficult to pick up some rotations and spin on pitches when the shadow's kind of in between and then it starts to creep out to the mound," Arrieta said.

"It's going to be a little different feel, but at the same time, for the most part, it's just about the same lineup," he said. "You try to tackle them accordingly. Use some knowledge that I have from the past to kind of help me tomorrow. But it's just another game on a big stage."

Los Angeles starter Rich Hill will follow Clayton Kershaw as the second straight left-hander to start for the Dodgers in the NLCS, and he draws inspiration from the three-time Cy Young Award winner.

"He's got the stuff, right? You can't argue that," Hill said. "But then there's another level of that competitiveness that comes out where if you're on the other side and you're down on one knee, he's going to put you away. That's something that when I see that, you just never quit, you never give up, you continue to attack."

Hill had a 2.12 ERA during the regular season despite ongoing issues with finger blisters which mean he has not lasted more than 93 pitches in a game since joining from Oakland in August.

"With Richie, it's an inning-by-inning thing, so we'll just keep our fingers crossed," manager Dave Roberts said. "The blister holds? I really, really like our chances."

Roberts confirmed rookie Julio Urias is set to start Game 4 on Wednesday, followed by Japanese rookie Kenta Maeda, who has allowed seven runs over seven innings in two postseason appearances.

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