Cubs Wild Card Game Preview
With just one day left before the big game, there’s a lot of decisions that need to be made as far as the roster and who will be starting. The biggest decision, who will be the starting pitcher, is obviously a no brainer. The Cubs will send the ace of baseball to the mound to face the Pirates again. Arrieta has faced the Pirates five times this year and has recorded great success against them. Arrieta’s stat line in against the Bucs: He pitched 5 games, Earned 3 wins, giving up just three earned runs in 36 innings pitched. The pirates as a team are hitting just .151 with 33 strikeouts, 18 hits, and no homeruns. It’s safe to say the decision to have Arrieta pitch was a no brainer. Even without considering his success against the rest of the league this year. Hoping a strong playoff push with Jake will also influence voters to vote for the very deserving Chicago pitcher for the Cy Young award.
Taking a look at the other side of the field you have the Pittsburgh ace Gerrit Cole who has faced the Cubs four times this and went 2-1. A deeper look into Cole’s numbers shows that the Cubs should have a good chance to put up some runs against the hard throwing right hander. Although he has struck out the young Cubs 32 time in just 25.1 innings, and hasn’t given up a homerun. He has also allowed 6 earned runs and 20 hits, which means the cubs are getting there swings in but just not when they need them. Although Cole doesn’t allow a lot of walks, look for the young Cubs to be patient up at the plate, waiting to get pitch they can drive. You’re going to have the strikeouts, that is something the Cubs have been struggling with all year. The Cubs are leading all of baseball with 1,518 strikeouts, with second place more than 100 behind them.
The Cubs hitters individually have also had some good success this year against the Pirates ace. Even though there’s limited at-bats that show this success. It’s still a good sign that they’re getting quality hacks in. Among those with success against Cole are Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. Both of these guys lead the Cubs in batting average against Cole going 6 for 17 equaling a batting average of .353. Which brings up the big question that everybody has been asking for the last two months? Do you start Castro? The answer is obvious….. Yes. I think the better question is going to be where you put him in the batting order. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him up in the 2 spot and move Schwarber down. By doing this it breaks up having lefty after lefty in the lineup.
We all know that the infield is pretty much set as far as who is going to play where. Montero will be behind the plate and will most likely bat in the 5 spot behind Bryant. I could also see Castro here depending on what Maddon has planned for in the later innings of the game. Montero is 3 for 5 against Cole this year, and it again it helps spreading out the lefties in the lineup. Rizzo will be at first, Bryant will be at third, Russel short, and Castro and second. As far as the outfield goes Dexter will play center, but then you could see Schwarber in right because of the big left field that PNC has. The only question is who’s going to start in left? You would think it would be Soler but with Jackson heating up as of late and his defensive abilities you may see the newly acquired outfielder out there as well. I’m not counting out Coghlan as a possibility but with his recent playing time being decreased and his 2-13 against Cole, I just don’t see it happening. So if I had to guess what the Cubs lineup is going to look like come tomorrow I would say this.
- Fowler CF
- Schwarber RF
- Bryant 3B
- Rizzo 1B
- Castro 2B
- Montero C
- Jackson LF
- Arrieta P
- Russel SS
Don’t be surprised though if Soler or Coghlan end up in left and Castro bats a little higher than normal. All in all I would say the Cubs are set up for success with a great manager and a great group of young talent. Oh you can’t forget that they’ll have the best pitcher in baseball on the mound so one run could be enough to take the W. Tune in tomorrow to watch the Cubs take down the Pirates in Pittsburgh at 7 P.M. CT #LETSGO