Here We Go Folks!

The Major League Baseball Season ends on Sunday afternoon and barring any major meltdowns, the Pittsburgh Pirates will host the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park next Wednesday for the right to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS starting a week from yesterday. The probable starters for the NL Wild Card Game will be Gerrit Cole squaring off against NL Cy Young frontrunner Jake Arrieta who notched his Major League Leading 22nd victory last night in Milwaukee. The Pittsburgh Pirates battled back from a 4-0 deficit at home against Cincinnati  to maintain their two game lead over Chicago. Chicago did win the season series thus holding the tiebreaker if the two finished with the same record on Sunday evening.

Looking for ward to the Will Card Game on Wednesday, Cole is 2-1 with a 2.13ERA in four starts against the Cubs this year. The one loss did come at Wrigley Field, however the lone no-decision came at PNC Park on September 15th. The Cubs have hit .225 off of Cole this year with only one of the 20 hits being for extra bases. Cole has an extremely high strikeout to walk ratio at 8:1 against Chicago, however Cole is slow to the plate and Chicago has been able to run on him recording three stolen bases in six attempts. This stat although not very appealing does mean Maddon will try an implement the run game in the Wild Card when the chance presents itself. Although having a better win-loss record at PNC this season, Cole across the board has fared better on the road. Cole at PNC has allowed 31ER at home in just 98.1IP for a 2.83ERA as compared to a 2.39 on the road. Cole also has given up eight home runs at home as compared to just three on the road. Cole has struck less than a batter per inning when at home as compared to slightly more than a batter per inning on the road.

In the Cubs corner Jake Arrieta will take the hill for Chicago on Wednesday and he’s been absolutely spectacular since the All-Star Break. Arrieta’s well on his way to a Cy Young Award with a 22-6 record posting a 1.77ERA and 236 strikeouts. Against the opponent on Wednesday Arrieta has been lights out with a 3-1 record and .75ERA on the year. Last Sunday Arrieta went seven innings of one hit baseball in a 4-0 Cubs win at Wrigley, a series the Cubs lost two to one. At PNC Arrieta’s 2-0 with a no-decision on his record and a .82ERA in 22IP. Arrieta has a allowed two earned runs while striking out 17 and walking four in Pittsburgh. Jake’s held the Pirates hitters to a .182 batting average with a paltry .205OBP and .189 slugging.

As expected the most effective hitter against Arrieta is McCutchen with a .348 average and two extra base hits to go with an 8/23 performance. McCutchen has one RBI like a couple of other Pirates, however he has been walked three times to go along with eight hits giving himself a .879OPS which is lightyears ahead of the next closest Pirate in Michael Morse at .556. Gerrit Cole on the other hand has his share of troubles against two guys that’ll be in the middle of the Cubs lineup come Wednesday night. Stalin Castro and Anthony Rizzo both have six hits against Cole in 17 plate appearances. Castro even has four RBI’s against Cole which is two less than the rest of the Pirates do as a team in their careers.

Wednesday’s Wild Card Game will be at 7:05 CDT on TBS and although it is very slim that the Cubs would host it, it could still happen if Pittsburgh loses tonight and tomorrow coupled with a Cubs sweep in Milwaukee.