LOS ANGELES – If the Cubs win this series, Aroldis Chapman has the chance to be the last man standing on the mound, the man who can pile the final outs onto the Dodgers’ elimination – maybe even make the Dodgers regret bailing on him last winter.
The Dodgers had a deal done with the Reds for Chapman before domestic abuse allegations came to light, resulting in an MLB investigation and ultimately a 30-game suspension for the left-hander with the 104-mph fastball.
The Dodgers quickly backed out of the deal, and the Yankees accepted the terms of the suspension in completing a discounted trade for the closer.
Chapman retired six of the eight Dodgers he faced, pitching in each of the first two games of the National League Championship Series. But it’s not personal, he swears – insisting he’ll find no extra joy in helping eliminate the Dodgers because of what that team might represent to hi.
“I knew the deal was almost done and it broke apart,” Chapman said in Spanish through team interpreter Mateo Moreno. “But to me it was fine whatever occurred with them.
“I don’t hold any ill will toward them at all about that. I know it’s just business.”
Cubs teammates are just glad that business kept Chapman from joining Kenley Jansen in the Dodgers’ bullpen.
“That’s what me and [Hector Rondon] always say,” reliever Pedro Strop said.”It was better having him on our side than somebody else.
“Can you imagine if he went to the St. Louis Cardinals or somebody like that. That would be tough.”
The Cubs wasted no time taking their first hacks at Dodgers Game 4 starter Julio Urias a full day before his playoff start against them.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon sent a loud and clear message to the umpire crew during his media session Tuesday when asked about the lefty rookie’s pickoff move that some consider close to a balk.
“Close?” Maddon said. ”When you get to see it on TV, it’s pretty obvious, it’s not even close. It’s a very basic tenet regarding what is and what is not a balk. Give him credit, man, for going through with it. That’s part of the game.
“There are certain umpires that are in tune to that, some that are not,” he added. “There are other balks that I always get annoyed with that aren’t called.
“So I’m certain that the umpiring crew has been made aware of it. That’s 101. That’s not an interpretation; that’s Balking 101 for me. So we’ll see how it all plays out.”
Notes: Maddon said rookie catcher Willson Contreras is in play to catch veteran John Lackey in Game 4 Wednesday. … Hall of Fame Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda, 89, attended Tuesday’s Game 3 just one day after being released from the hospital following a 10-day stay because of back and shoulder issues.