Dodgers’ McCarthy set to face Cubs in second outing
CHICAGO — Brandon McCarthy is looking for a season free of complications.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015 and posting an erratic 2-3 record in 10 appearances last season after his return midway through 2016, the Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander makes his second 2017 start on Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.
He’s also tasked with helping the Dodgers bust a slump that has seen three losses in four games.
“My focus is on making 33 starts, pitching in the postseason and doing everything I do to be a solid major league starter,” McCarthy told reporters during spring training.
McCarthy, 33, landed the final spot in a Los Angeles rotation that has temporarily lost one member and has other potential starters working through various woes.
McCarthy (1-0, 3.00 ERA) goes against Cubs right-hander John Lackey (1-0, 4.50 ERA) in the middle game of the three-game series at Wrigley Field.
The teams had Tuesday off after the Cubs beat the Dodgers 3-2 in the early hours of Tuesday when Anthony Rizzo delivered a walk-off single that scored Jon Jay with two outs in the ninth.
McCarthy worked last Thursday against the San Diego Padres, giving up two runs and four hits in a six-inning outing. He last pitched against the Cubs on April 22, 2014 — a 9-2 loss with Arizona — and is 0-1 in three starts against Chicago.
Lackey goes for his second win after a quality start to open the season on April 6 against the St. Louis Cardinals. He allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings as the Cubs claimed a 6-4 victory.
Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill is on the disabled list with a blister on his left middle finger. He appears on the verge of returning, although he won’t necessarily be a factor in this week’s series with the Cubs.
For Hill, blister problems also plagued him in 2016 and he spent much of the second half of the season out of action. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts hopes that won’t be the case this year.
“Rich is back in Los Angeles,” Roberts said Monday. “His finger feels good and he’s been playing catch. He’ll throw bullpen on Thursday (in Chicago) and at that point in time we’ll know if he’ll make the start on Sunday.”
Also out is left-hander Julio Urias, who made his 2017 debut on Monday at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Left-hander Scott Kazmir, who was 10-6 with a 4.56 ERA last season, started this season on the disabled list with hip tightness.
The Cubs don’t have pressing pitching issues, although left-hander Brian Duensing remains on the disabled list with lower back spasms. Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s biggest decisions seem to revolve around where to bat his starters.
Maddon usually had his pitcher batting in the No. 8 spot during his first season in 2015, then switching to mostly the No. 9 in 2016.
Maddon seems interested in mixing it up in 2017. He has had the pitcher in the No. 8 in the first six games and they’ve batted 5-for-15 (.357).
On Monday, Maddon moved starter Jon Lester to ninth in the order and the Cubs left-hander picked up an RBI with an infield grounder.
The Cubs and Dodgers play six times in two series this season. The second runs May 26-28 at Dodger Stadium.