When you hit Wild Card number one, you’ve got to play number two. We nailed the under between Keuchel and Tanaka last night and I think we have just as good of a starting pitching matchup to enjoy tonight with Jake Arrieta going up against Gerrit Cole at PNC Park. The playoff-naïve Cubbies are favorites on the road.
There are two main reasons why such a young team will be road favorites against a team playing in its third consecutive Wild Card game and gets to do it in front of one of the better home crowds in baseball. Chicago is red-hot over about the last ten weeks. They also send their ace and potential Cy Young to the hill against a team he has given fits to this year. Arrieta has dominated Pittsburgh in 2015: 7 1-hit innings a little over a week ago, 8 innings of 1-run ball less than two weeks before that, and a 2-hitter over 7 innings in the first week of August. He even stayed on par with that back in April and May when he tossed a pair of 7-inning, 1-run outings, both at home and on the road. All together that’s 36 innings and 3 runs allowed for Arrieta against Pittsburgh this year. After the Bucs ran into Madison Bumgarner in its Wild Card matchup last year, it might be just as tough this year against Arrieta.
For as good as Gerrit Cole has been this year, it seems as though he’s tired ever so slightly down the stretch in what was a work-heavy campaign. Cole has averaged just over 6 innings per outing in August and September, which may have been a ploy by Clint Hurdle to keep his ace fresher. But both his ERA and WHIP increased in that time and he came up with just two shutdown performances (no runs allowed – not an official term). He very well may need one tonight. I lean Arrieta in the one-on-one matchup because of how good the dude has been against the Steel City all year.
Free Pick: Cubs -128
YTD: 26-22-5 -1.06
2014: 45-28-3 +9.02