The NL Central will be well represented in the postseason with both wild card entrants hailing from that division but which team will prevail and allow us to cash in our MLB picks?
Jake Arrieta - The Beast
Chicago’s Jake Arrieta has had a career year and many would say should be named the NL Cy Young winner for the 2015 season. In Arrieta’s second to last outing of the season he pitched against the same opponent he will be facing Wednesday night. He went seven full innings of one hit ball leading to a 4-0 Cubs’ victory over the Pirates. Arrieta has now allowed only two earned runs over his last nine starts and has lasted at least six full innings in all of them.
The 29-year-old native of Farmington, Missouri has found his groove in the Windy City since being shipped from Baltimore in the middle of the 2013 season. This year he compiled a 22-6 record with a 1.77 ERA and a WHIP of 0.86 to go along with a career high 236 strikeouts. Over the course of the past 30 days, Arrieta leads all qualifying pitchers with five wins, a 0.39 ERA, a 0.57 WHIP and has held opponents to a .141 batting average.
Gerrit Cole – Pirates Booty
The Bucs have struck gold with 25-year-old Gerrit Cole who assembled a masterful season. Cole has pitched his way to a 19-8 record, 2.60 ERA with a WHIP of 1.09 over 208 innings of work. When last he took the mound Cole held the NL Central division winning St. Louis Cardinals’ offense in check allowing seven hits on two earned runs over seven innings en route to a 7-2 Pittsburgh victory.
Cole is 2-1 with one no decision in his four starts against the Cubs this season. He last met Chicago on September 25th where the MLB odds makers installed the visiting Pirates as +105 underdogs. Cole delivered a four hit, one earned run performance that lifted the Bucs to a 3-2 victory. Cole has registered a 7-1 with a 2.88 ERA and 69 strikeouts in his career when facing the Cubs.
This is a matchup of two terrific pitchers and two very good teams with virtually identical regular season records. Arrieta has gone 6-1 with a 1.68 ERA and 51 strikeouts in his career against the Pirates while Cole’s stats are almost as impressive when facing the Cubs. While Arrieta is statistically the better pitcher it would be foolhardy to base our MLB picks on a coin flip of one stellar starting pitcher over another.
The Pirates have dropped four of their last six but clinched home field position with their 4-0 victory over the Reds on Sunday. Meanwhile the Cubs ended their season on a winning note with a 3-1 win over the Brewers in Milwaukee. This will become a case of which team has the best relievers and which offense can take advantage once the big guns are taken out.
As of the end of the regular season the Pirates led the Cubs in all major offensive categories except slugging percentage (.396 vs .398). The Pirates have been here before while the Cubs have perennially sat on the sidelines when the post season parade commenced in October. While Jake Arrieta is an absolute virtuoso on the hill, the Pirates are trotting up a prodigy themselves in Gerrit Cole. This is a game that reeks of a pitcher’s duel with no total the MLB odds makers put up low enough to deter me from going low here. I like the Bucs due to experience and I love the under due to the tremendous pitching on both sides of the aisle.
Bet under 5 ½ (+100) at Pinnacle
Bet Pittsburgh +125 at JustBet