Chicago Cubs vs the Pittsburgh Pirates. We've only heard that 19 times this year, with the Cubs winning 11 of those games, but how about we play game 20! Game number 20 will be the most meaningful, and it will give the winning team a chance to play another division rival, the St. Louis Cardinals.
I'm not sure we could ask for a better pitching matchup for a 1 game playoff. The Pittsburgh Pirates will throw Gerrit Cole who went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA and 202 strike outs. The Cubs will counter with 22 game winner Jake Arrieta, who finished the year with a 1.77 ERA and 236 strike outs.
In Cole's 4 starts against the Cubs this year, the stocky righty went 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA. Over 25.1 innings, Cole allowed 20 hits, 4 walks, and 6 earned runs, while striking out 32. Cole did not allow a home run in his 4 starts against Chicago, and allowed only 11 on the year.
Cole will face a tough, powerful and youthful Cubs lineup. His battles with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo will be fun to watch. Kris Bryant is 3-9 off of Cole, but has struck out 6 times. Rizzo has success off of Cole, picking up 6 hits in 17 at-bats.
Starlin Castro is also 6 for 17 off of Cole in his career with 4 RBI. However guys like Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell, Dexter Fowler and Chris Coghlan are just a combined 10 for 46 (.217 average) against Cole with no extra base hits.
Jake Arrieta, who in my opinion deserves the NL Cy Young award, will throw for the Cubs. In 5 starts this year against the Pirates, Arrieta was sensational. He went 3-1 with a 0.75 ERA. Over 36 innings, Arrieta allowed just 18 hits, 5 walks and 3 earned runs, while striking out 33. Just like Cole, Arrieta keeps the ball in the park and has only allowed 10 home runs on the year.
The Pirates batters have a total of 176 career at-bats vs Arrieta and have just 31 hits. That's good for a .176 average. They also have driven in just 6 runs with Arrieta on the mound. Andrew McCutchen is the only Pirate with some sort of success against Arrieta, as he is 8-23 (.348 average) with 2 doubles and a RBI.
Arrieta owns the following hitters:
- Pedro Alvarez - 2 for 17, 1 home run, 4 strike outs
- Francisco Cervelli - 2 for 13, 5 strike outs
- Josh Harrison - 1 for 10
- Gregory Polanco - 3 for 16, 5 strike outs
- Aramis Ramirez - 2 for 19
- Neil Walker - 4 for 25, 6 strike outs
Cubs 5 - Pirates 1
Breaking Down the AL - Yankees vs Astros