Go inside the numbers and matchups that will decide the showdown Tuesday night between the Cubs and Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLCS, and then vote for which team will win at the bottom of the page.
What we learned in Game 2
Clayton Kershaw allowed two hits in seven shutout innings and Kenley Jansen mowed through the final six batters as Adrian Gonzalez's second-inning home run off Kyle Hendricks held up in a 1-0 victory. -- David Schoenfield
Inside the pitching matchup
When Jake Arrieta is on the mound: There aren't too many pitchers who go 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA and we feel like it was a bit of letdown. Arrieta had a 1.74 ERA through June 22, dominating like he did in 2015, but he had control/command issues after that and posted a 4.44 ERA over his final 16 starts with 41 walks in 99⅓ innings. Against the Giants in the division series, he allowed six hits and two runs over six innings, but walked just one batter with five strikeouts.
Arrieta mentioned during an in-game interview the other night that he had sort of lost the feel for his cutter (or slider) midseason, but feels like he has it back and has regained the confidence to throw it at any time. Let's see what the numbers say:
April: .037 average, 30 percent strikeout rate
May: .286, 12.8 percent
June: .176, 45 percent
July: .429, 12 percent
August: .286, 18.8 percent
September: .143, 12 percent
Indeed, after throwing it 113 times in April and 125 times in May, he threw the cutter/slider just 51 times in August before ramping back up to 81 in September. Against the Giants he threw it 29 times, his most in one game since May. The Giants, like the Dodgers, have a lot of left-handed batters, so look for Arrieta to make that a key part of his arsenal once again.
Otherwise, Arrieta's fastball is still a tough pitch, averaging 93.8 mph with some late sink to it. Against left-handers, he tends to work the outer third of the strike zone with the fastball and he also works up and down the zone. He'll mix in his curveball as well. Even when he was struggling with walks, Arrieta did a good job limiting hard contact. -- Schoenfield
When Rich Hill is on the mound: When he wasn't sidelined by blisters, Hill was one of the best starters in baseball in 2016, going 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA between the A's and Dodgers, holding batters to a .195 average. On the surface, his repertoire seems pretty basic: A fastball from 88 to 91 mph and a big-breaking curveball. He throws both up in the strike zone -- 70 percent of his fastballs are in the upper half compared to the MLB average of 50 percent.
What makes him so difficult to hit is the deception in his delivery. Both pitches are delivered on the same axis, what pitchers call "mirroring." His curveball will also have different speeds and arcs to it. His fastball generates extreme spin, leading to fly balls and pop-ups. And just to throw a wrinkle into everything, he occasionally drops down and throws sidearm. Add it up and it's a delivery and repertoire batters just don't see.
He started Game 5 of the Division Series and Dave Roberts had a quick hook, pulling him after 2 2/3 innings even though six of the eight outs had come via the strikeout. He'd allowed three hits but none were hit that hard. He's back on four days of rest, but Roberts will have a rested bullpen after the day off. -- Schoenfield
Player in the spotlight
Dexter Fowler. The Cubs are hitting .193 in the postseason with several regulars hitting below .200. Anthony Rizzo (1-for-23) and Addison Russell (1-for-22) are most notable, but we mentioned Rizzo here in the Game 2 preview. One reason the Cubs' offense worked so well this year was Fowler getting on base in the leadoff spot. He's just 4-for-24 (.167) with a .231 OBP in six games. -- Schoenfield
Did you know ...
In his NLDS Game 3 start, Arrieta threw 10 pitches that were taken, none of which were called a strike. That is the second time this season that batters took at least 10 of his pitches without a called strike; the first was Aug. 18 vs. the Brewers. -- ESPN Stats & Info
What will decide the game Tuesday night
Arrieta's heat. Arrieta limited opponents to a .198 batting against his fastball during the regular season, the best mark by any NL pitcher. The Dodgers were 1-15 in at-bats ending with a fastball when they faced Arrieta on May 31. However, Arrieta will be up against two of the better fastball hitters in the league in Corey Seager and González, who combined for the Dodgers' only two hits in seven innings against Arrieta back in May. Los Angeles has a .824 OPS against fastballs this postseason and a .507 OPS against off-speed pitches. -- ESPN Stats & Info
Choosing sides: Who will win?
The Cubs have been striking the ball well and that includes Game 2, when they had nothing to show for a few well-hit balls off of Kershaw. It's been a playoff-long slog for the offense but I like their chances against Hill. Arrieta will have to command his secondary pitches against all those L.A. lefties, but I expect him to be sharp. At this point, the hitters are due, and it's awfully hard to beat the Cubs in back-to-back games. I'm going with Chicago in Game 3. -- Brad Doolittle
This is bound to be another low scoring affair and Jake Arrieta's history in this park will come into play. He simply likes everything about pitching at Dodger stadium. Joe Maddon will make small lineup changes which will benefit in a big way as the Cubs squeak by in Game 3. -- Jesse Rogers
You know that narrative about the Dodgers being extremely bad against left-handed pitching? The Cubs have been worse this postseason and up next is another lefty in Hill. They are fortunate, though, to have Jake Arrieta pitching in Dodger Stadium, a venue that agrees with him. The Cubs figure to take Game 3 in what is developing into a back-and-forth affair. -- Doug Padilla
Where the series stands
We're tied up and the Dodgers head home, where they were 53-28. They had a 2.97 ERA at Dodger Stadium and beat the Cubs two out of three here in late August. The Cubs will start John Lackey in Game 4 while the Dodgers remain undecided. That start may depend on whether Julio Urias is used in relief in Game 3.-- Schoenfield