Cubs look to Lester to end skid as they face Dodgers
LOS ANGELES — A four-time All-Star who has finished in the top five of the Cy Young Award voting three times, Jon Lester looks to be getting even better in his 13th major league season.
Lester will try for his sixth consecutive victory when he faces the Dodgers on Tuesday night in the second game of the four-game series. He will square off against the Dodgers’ Ross Stripling, who had his own six-game streak come to an end last week in Chicago
The Lester-Stripling matchup is the second one in a span of six days.
Lester not only has a 1.64 ERA over his five-start win streak, he has pitched at least six innings in seven consecutive starts and has a 1.67 ERA over his last 12 outings.
“(Lester) is just slowing the game down,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said before Monday’s game in L.A. “He has gone to another level of maturation pitching-wise so I have really been enjoying watching him go about his business.”
Stripling is only in his third major league season, but he has shown an increased maturity level on the field as well this year. With the Dodgers in need of somebody to step up in the wake of a number of injuries to the starting staff, the right-hander made an easy transition from a bullpen role to rotation workhorse.
Stripling (6-2, 1.99) was not terrible in his outing against the Cubs last week, Lester was just better. The right-hander gave up three runs to the Cubs on eight hits with seven strikeouts over six innings. He sounded eager for a rematch.
“We’ve faced these guys in the playoffs the last two years, and it’s a lineup we’re really familiar with, and they’re familiar with us,” Stripling said after Wednesday’s defeat, according to mlb.com. “We’re right there with this team, and we know that.”
Lester (9-2, 2.10) held the Dodgers to just five hits in his scoreless outing Wednesday as the Cubs closed out a series victory. It is the only series the Dodgers have lost since the middle of May when they were in Miami.
Not only are the Dodgers 16-5 in June, they have 48 home runs in the month after hitting two Monday and nine in their past two games. Since a May 17 victory in Miami, the Dodgers are 26-9.
As good as the Cubs have been since the start of the 2015 season, winning at Dodger Stadium has proved difficult. They are just 2-8 in L.A. in that time, while going a baseball-best 334-226 in that same stretch. They did go 2-1 in L.A. while winning the 2016 National League Championship Series.
The Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez has three home runs in two games and has six in his last 13 games. He is expected to be in the starting lineup Tuesday against the lefty Lester. Hernandez, the Dodgers’ super-utility player, has a career .874 OPS against left-handed pitching.