In this year’s NL Wild Card game, Anthony Rizzo will lead the upstart Chicago Cubs into Pittsburgh to take on Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates. The probables for the game are Jake Arrieta (22-6) of the Cubs and Gerrit Cole (19-8) of the Pirates.
This will be the third year in a row that the Pirates have made it to the Wild Card game. In 2013 they defeated the Cincinnati Reds by a score of 6-2. Last year they fell 8-0 at home to soon-to-be-champions, the San Francisco Giants. This is the first Postseason appearance for Chicago since 2008, where they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS.
This will be a pitching matchup between the two horses of their respective rotations. Arrieta and Cole will have the whole world tuning in to admire an epic battle between two powerhouses.
Arrieta has had an unbelievable season, and should be the 2015 Cy Young award winner. Going 13-1 with a 1.90 ERA on the road this season and 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA at the venue for the NL Wild Card game, PNC Park.
This is Arrieta’s game to lose, and that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Yes, Arrieta has been lights out down the stretch, as well as on the road, at night, and at PNC Park. Chicago has a young, inexperienced team. Going on the road into a war zone like Pittsburgh may be a little problem for them. Chicago is seeking their first championship since 1908, and their hopes for a title will soon fade away. I do agree that Arrieta has been the best pitcher in the world these past few months. However, this is the most meaningful start of his up and down career. I believe the pressure of primetime will get to him and cause him to collapse, just enough for Pittsburgh to capitalize.
Gerrit Cole at home this season, is 9-3 with a 2.83 ERA. In 25.1 innings pitched against the Cubs this year, Cole has only given up six earned runs and has struck out 32. He also has a 2-1 record with a 2.13 ERA against them. The Pirates know how to win. They have the experience in the lineup to get to Arrieta early and often. Not to mention eight of Cole’s last nine starts versus the Cubs has come with a win.
I’m not saying anything negative about Jake Arrieta. Trust me, he is the best pitcher on the planet right now. I just think the swagger of Cole and the Pirates will be too much for Arrieta to handle. He is due for a bad start and unfortunately it will come tomorrow, the biggest start of his career.
What do you think? Join the debate. Arrieta or Cole? Who has what it takes to lead their team into the NLDS?