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updated: 10/18/2017 12:40 AM

Arrieta in a familiar place as Cubs' Game 4 starter in NLCS

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  • Expected to leave the Cubs as a free agent this winter, Jake Arrieta can exit on a high note with a strong start against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLCS tonight.

    Expected to leave the Cubs as a free agent this winter, Jake Arrieta can exit on a high note with a strong start against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLCS tonight.
    Associated Press

 
 

Jake Arrieta has been in this spot before.

Come to think of it, the Chicago Cubs' starting pitcher was here just last Wednesday.

With the Cubs up on Washington 2-1 in the National League division series, Arrieta took the mound at Wrigley Field in Game 4.

He made sure to soak in his surroundings, just in case it was his final start in a Cubs uniform.

A free agent at season's end, Arrieta and the Cubs lost to Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals in Game 4, but the series ended the next night as the Cubs won a wild marathon at Washington in the deciding game.

The Cubs survived to play another round, and Arrieta is getting the ball Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL championship series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley.

"It is a repeat," Arrieta admitted. "Very similar situation, but still optimistic and looking forward to making a couple more (starts) here. But tomorrow, I'm still going to kind of take everything in as well as I can and prepare to the best of my ability and be ready to face these guys Game 4."

In Game 4 of the NLDS, Arrieta was pitching for the first time in two weeks while recovering from a strained right hamstring.

The rust showed, and the 31-year-old righty labored through 4 innings, allowing 1 run on 2 hits and 5 walks while running his pitch count up to 90.

Arrieta said he's in a much better place heading into his start against the Dodgers.

"I think the leg issue is pretty much behind us," Arrieta said. "I think the extra days that we had leading up to my first start were very necessary. I don't see it as being a factor anymore from this point moving on. "The command, yeah, it was erratic in my first start in the last series, but not being out there for a couple weeks was a little shaky. There have been some good sessions on the side in between then and now, and I feel pretty good where I'm at now."

Arrieta faces Los Angeles righty Alex Wood in Game 4.

It's a testament to the Dodgers' depth that Wood lines up fourth in the rotation after he went 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA during the regular season.

Wood wasn't needed in L.A.'s NLDS sweep over the Diamondbacks, so he makes his first start since Sept. 26.

"I've stayed on a semiregular schedule," said Wood, who has a 4.91 ERA in 4 career playoff appearances, all in relief. "I've had two sim games in between against a lot of our regular guys in our lineup. It's as close to a regular season game as you could get Obviously, it a little bit different getting in the game scenario and your endurance.

"But I feel good with where I'm at. Getting that time off, too, it's late in the year. Middle of October. So how your body feels throughout the year, and that part of it is probably a little more of an advantage, getting your legs back underneath you."

• Follow Scot's baseball reports on Twitter @sgregor.

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