One scoreless game in the playoffs against Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen will not prompt panic from deep-thinking Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon.
"Yeah, there's only so much you can possibly do when it comes to manipulating your lineup. I mean, these are the guys that got you," Maddon said Monday afternoon before the Cubs held a workout at Dodger Stadium. "We've got a bunch of All-Stars out there. So some guys are struggling, and you're right, a part of it, I think, is due to the fact that we've seen (Giants starters Madison) Bumgarner, (Jeff) Samardzija, Matty (Moore), and (Johnny) Cueto, I mean, that's not bad.
"And then we saw Kershaw last night. There's a lot of Cy Young candidates among that group. So we haven't hit to our capabilities."
The middle of the Cubs lineup might look different in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Tuesday night, when the best-of-seven faceoff shifts from Chicago to Los Angeles.
"You just don't make wholesale changes," Maddon said.
In the Dodgers' 1-0 win Sunday night, Kershaw baffled the Cubs with seven shutout innings. Chicago faces left-hander Rich Hill on Tuesday.
The Cubs are looking at alternative lineup configurations with the same personnel, particularly how to handle the middle of the lineup, with the 3-4-5 segment of the order 6-for-60 (.100) in six playoff games. Ben Zobrist has two key hits, including a double down the right field line that sparked Chicago's four-run rally in the ninth inning of NL Division Series Game 4 in San Francisco. But first baseman Anthony Rizzo in front of Zobrist and shortstop Addison Russell in the No. 5 hole are generating next to nothing offensively.
"I have considered different thoughts. There is no question," Maddon said. "I am thinking about different things, yes. And we do need those guys to be good."
In the 3-1 series win over San Francisco, Cubs pitchers provided a lot of punch at the plate, including a home run in Game 4 by Jake Arrieta, who starts Tuesday night. Arrieta has allowed only two hits in his past 16 innings on the mound at Dodger Stadium, including a no-hitter last August.
"It's a completely different game, obviously, with being in the postseason," 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. 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, and we're all prepared for it."
Hill, 36, came up with the Cub as a fourth-round pick in 2002, but he has bounced around the big leagues. He was traded back to Chicago from the Oakland A's in July and combined this season was 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts. Hill had 13 strikeouts in seven total innings in the NLDS but allowed five earned runs.
Hill was 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA in six starts with the Dodgers in the regular season.
"If we take care of what we need to do and everybody takes care of their job and passes the baton to the next guy, I believe that the results will fall more often than not in our favor," Hill said.
The Dodgers are expected to start a lefty-heavy lineup against Arrieta, who said pitch sequence and cloud cover with the 5 p.m. local start time might be more important than how manager Dave Roberts aligns his batting order.
"I think the shadows have more of an effect on the offense," Arrieta said. "I really think it can be difficult to pick up spin, especially, you know, once the shadows kind of creep in between the mound and home plate.
"So really from a pitching perspective, you want to be aggressive early because of the fact that it is a little bit more difficult to pick up some rotations and spin on pitches when the shadow's kind of in between and as it starts to creep out to the mound. So I think really it's an advantage for the pitchers early on in the game."
Roberts said Monday that he will turn to another left-handed starter, 20-year-old Julio Arias, in Game 4.
Urias just turned 20 in August, and he will be two weeks younger than Don Drysdale when he pitched two innings in relief for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. Urias became the youngest winning pitcher in postseason history when he tossed two scoreless innings out of the bullpen in the NLDS.
The Dodgers have not yet determined whether Kershaw or Game 1 starter Kenta Maeda will start Game 5 on Thursday. Maeda is penciled in, Roberts allowed, before warning that the team is "open to adjusting." Kershaw started on three days' rest in the NLDS against the Washington Nationals.
Of course, Roberts has been talked out of decisions before. On Sunday night, when he walked to the mound at Wrigley Field with two outs in the bottom of the seventh with every intention of removing Kershaw, he was turned back toward the dugout with his ace still on the mound. A loud lineout to the warning track in center field off the bat of Javier Baez allowed Roberts and Kershaw to exhale.
"He's the best pitcher on the planet," Roberts said. "I'll take him any day."