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Dodgers/Cubs

Clayton Kershaw threw seven shutout, two-hit innings against the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS, which combined with his starter/closer act in the NLDS convinced even the most stubborn holdouts that his poor postseason reputation was overblown and perhaps just flat out erased. And now, less than a week later, he'll take the mound at Wrigley Field against a 103-win team with the Dodgers' season on the line in an elimination game. Something tells me Kershaw's playoff rep isn't set in stone quite yet.

Kershaw won the ERA title each season from 2011-2014 and his 1.69 ERA this year would have easily led the league again if he hadn't finished 13 innings short of qualifying. Kyle Hendricks, meanwhile, did lead the league in ERA this year with a 2.13 mark thanks to the perfect combination of his pinpoint command and the Cubs' record-setting defense. Hendricks wasn't his usual self in Game 2, walking four batters in 5.1 innings, but allowed just one run on three hits in what became a 1-0 win by Kershaw and the Dodgers.

Their roles are different–Kershaw will essentially be asked to win this game for the Dodgers, while the Cubs would settle for five or six good innings from Hendricks before handing things over to the bullpen–but it's hard to imagine Game 6 as anything but another tense, low-scoring affair. Add together their ERAs this season and you get 3.82, which is a lower mark than three different starters in the ALCS posted individually. Kershaw vs. Hendricks is a helluva pitchers' duel, assuming the wind at Wrigley Field abides.

Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw) at Chicago Cubs (Kyle Hendricks), 8:00 PM ET

PECOTA odds of winning: 53% Dodgers, 47% Cubs

Projected Starting Lineups

Dodgers vs. Hendricks (R)

Cubs vs. Kershaw (L)

Chase Utley (L) 2B

Dexter Fowler (S) CF

Corey Seager (L) SS

Kris Bryant (R) 3B

Justin Turner (R) 3B

Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B

Adrian Gonzalez (L) 1B

Ben Zobrist (S) LF

Josh Reddick (L) RF

Addison Russell (R) SS

Joc Pederson (L) CF

Javier Baez (R) 2B

Yasmani Grandal (S) C

Willson Contreras (R) C

Andrew Toles (L) LF

Jason Heyward (L) RF

Clayton Kershaw (L) P

Kyle Hendricks (R) P

Injuries/Availability

It'll be all hands on deck for the Dodgers, and surely manager Dave Roberts would love to avoid using anyone but Kershaw and Kenley Jansen. Friday's off day means everyone in the bullpen is available, although Joe Blanton has probably pitched himself out of a high-leverage role and Pedro Baez may not be a whole lot more trusted at this point. Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda are likely off limits after starting the previous two games and Rich Hill is lined up to start a potential Game 7 on Sunday.

Chicago's bullpen could be without Carl Edwards Jr. due to a hamstring injury, but he was unlikely to play a big role anyway. Aroldis Chapman struggled again while throwing 19 pitches in a mop-up situation Thursday, but he'll no doubt get the ball if the Cubs have a late lead. Right-handed setup men Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop haven't been great during the playoffs, so manager Joe Maddon may be even more inclined than usual to mix and match based on handedness while trying to bridge the gap from Hendricks to Chapman.

Outlook

It says a lot about Kershaw's greatness that both PECOTA and Las Vegas view the Dodgers as the Game 6 favorites down 3-2 on the road against a 103-win team, but it's hard to argue with that. If he pitches like CLAYTON KERSHAW there will probably be a Game 7 on Sunday. If not, the Cubs will be pouring champagne before heading to Cleveland.