The Pitchers - Gerrit Cole (19-8, 2.60) starts the postseason off with a bang by toeing the rubber against Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77). The Pirates have gone 8-1 in Cole's starts against the Cubs, and he was 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA in four Windy City outings this campaign.
Arrieta is 3-1 v Pittsburgh & his 0.75 ERA against the Pirates is his lowest ERA against a team he's started three or more games against this season. He's given up 18 hits in 36 IP with 32 K while facing the Bucs and hasn't lost since July 25th, when Cole Hamels no-hit him. He's posted a 0.84 ERA over his last 20 starts.
Pretty tall order for Cole Train today. It's a great challenge - and a great opportunity. The game starts at 8:07 and will be aired by TBS & 93.7 The Fan.
OK - a couple of noticeable lineup inserts: Josh is at third, and that's no surprise as he's been the Buc's hottest hitter over the past week or 10 days. Second, S-Rod is at 1B. Pedro is hurt by the fact that the Bucs obviously expect a low scoring game, plus Jake has a reverse split and hardly ever surrenders a long ball. Of course, an argument could be made for A-Ram or Michael Morse, but glove-first won today's debate.
It's pretty simple in the playoffs: if ya wanna be the best, ya gotta beat the best. And if Arrieta isn't the best, he's sure on the short list. The Pirates put together a glove & grinder crew, and it's hard to argue with Clint's feeling that "Fall baseball is all about pitching and defense..."
- Craig Edwards of Fangraphs writes that the Cole-Arrieta matchup is one of the best all-time pairings of playoff baseball.
- The Cubs finished the regular season 11-8 v Pittsburgh. They had the most road wins (48) in the NL and were 6-4 this year at PNC Park.
- The Pirates are the first team of the Divisional Era (1969>) to reach the postseason with a losing record vs every teams in their own division (via @EliasSports).
- This is the third post-season in a row that the Pirates have carried three catchers on their rosters. On that subject, Matthew Trueblood of the BP Wrigleyville blog thinks the key to tonight will be Miguel Montero's chemistry with Arrieta, something he thinks that Fran and Gerrit have yet to develop per his article about the two Venezuelan backstops.
- FiveThirtyEight's Neil Paine used the elo method to rank the MLB teams by performance. The second and third teams won't be a surprise, althought the top one may.
- This is the first time that the Pirates and Cubs have ever met in the post season.
- Jung Ho Kang will be introduced and on the chalkline during the Pirates pregame ceremony along with the rest of the team; good to see him back at the ballyard.
- Cutch's mom, Petrina, will sing the National Anthem. She wowed the crowd before the 2013 Wild Card game with her rendition. The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by former Pirate pitcher and current Root Sports broadcaster Bob Walk.
- The Pens are backin' the Bucs - their coaches wore Bucco caps during parctice yesterday, and the players donned Pirate hats afterward.