The Cubs have best road record in MLB at 48-33, three games better than the away records of the Pirates, Cards, & Rangers' and have won their last nine games away from Lake Michigan. On the other hand, their last road loss was at PNC Park on September 15th.
The five NL playoff teams are the top five in ERA and FIP. Pittsburgh finished first in team ERA (3.23) and second in FIP (3.36); Chicago third in ERA (3.36) and first in FIP (3.30). The sticks are fairly even; Pittsburgh has a weighted runs created of of 99, the Cubs' wRC+ is 96, so they're both average (100) attacks.
|Cole Train hopes to start a long playoff run (photo: Wilfredo Lee/AP)|
On September 16th, Arrieta went eight innings at Pittsburgh, allowing one earned run and six hits in a 3-2 Chicago victory. Eleven days later, Arrieta gave up just one hit to the Pirates at Wrigley Field, striking out nine batters in seven shutout innings. The Buccos v Jake:
Cutch 8-23 (.348)
Starling 4-17 (.235)
Michael Morse 2-9 (.222)
Gregory Polanco (3-16 (.188)
The Kid 4-25 (.160)
Fran 2-13 (.154)
Pedro 2-17 (.118)
A-Ram 2-19 (.105)
Josh 1-10 (.100)
Jordy 0-4 (.000)
The Cubs, conversely, haven't had many problems with Cole Train individually, but he's kept the team under control overall pretty well this year. Gerrit's gone 2-1/2.13 with 32 whiffs in 25-1/3 frames, surrendering 20 hits with a WHIP of 0.947.
He's been a bit better at Wrigley, where he's had three of his four 2015 starts. He defeated the Cubs on September 25th at Chi-town, allowing one run in seven innings, but the baby Bears had better luck 10 days earlier, scoring four runs (three earned) off Cole in Pittsburgh. Here's how they match up:
Miguel Montero 3-5 (.600)
Chris Donorfia 3-6 (.500)
Starlin Castro 6-17 (.353)
Anthony Rizzo 6-17 (.353)
Kris Bryant 3-9 (.333)
Addison Russell 2-7 (.286)
Jorge Soler 2-7 (.286)
Dexter Fowler 3-14 (.214)
Kyle Schwarber 1-5 (.200)
Chris Coghlan 2-13 (.154)
Cole does have one advantage over Arrieta. He’s started in two post season games, allowing three earned runs in 11 innings, while Jake has never pitched in the playoffs. On the other side of the pillow, Arrieta’s allowed either zero-or-one earned runs in nine of his last 10 starts. He's been in the limelight for a while now, and it doesn't look like a big stage will rattle his cage very much.
The bookies and the pundits favor the Cubs; after all, Arrieta has been on a historic roll. But the Bucs do have a few things going for them.
Two things are minor - Arietta is due for a clinker, but then again, so was Mad Bum last year. And the Bucs are playing in their eighth playoff game of the past three seasons; that may be worth something (tho they did better in 2013 with no experience than they did last year.)
But the real key is to get the game to bullpen. If Gerrit can cancel out Jake, the Pirate relief corp is deep, tested and beats Chicago's stat line across the board (except in K's) in counting numbers - ERA, strand rate, grounders induced, & homers surrendered. Both starters will be looking for a statement game, and if becomes a duel that's handed over to the pens, that's where Pittsburgh has its biggest edge.
Oh, one last thing - if all else fails, there's always that billy goat thing.
- What does Cutch think of the whole affair? Check out his article on the Player's Tribune.