Jake Arrieta, who has been the best pitcher in baseball, will get a crack at the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh. See who we like as our MLB Wild card Pick of the Day.
First pitch is set for 8:07 p.m. ET tonight at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. According to the MLB odds board, the Pirates are a -126 betting favorite on the road. Pittsburgh has had an exceptional season and Chicago has also broken out of a slump of many years, but as we know, good pitching wins games and although Gerrit Cole (19-8, 2.60) has had a splendid season and the Pirates were just 2 games away from the 100 win mark.
Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77) is likely to win the NL CY Young Award and is the hottest pitcher in baseball. It's not even close. Chicago has also won 97 games and are a very respectable 48-33 on the road. The Cubbies don't have the recent experience in the post season that Pittsburgh has, but if Arrieta pitches the way that he has for the past couple of months, it will be light's out for the Pirates.
The Greatness of Arrieta
Arrieta is 11-0 in his last 11 decisions and 15-1 in his last 16. Since August 4th, he's allowed just 4 earned runs in 88 1/3 innings. Arrieta is also a pitcher that can pitch in excess of 120 pitches. All the Cubs need to do is scratch out a couple of runs and they will advance.
The only thing holding Jake Arrieta back is not having been in a situation such as this and he'll be facing a team that's been in this situation plenty of times recently and possess former MVP's such as Andrew McCutchen and upcoming talent like Starling Marte. Will Arrieta let the PNC crowd and the pressure get to him? The way that he's pitched as of late, it would be the ultimate choke job and I certaintly don't expect this to happen.
I could talk about the excellence of 19 game winner, Gerrit Cole, but the Pirates offense is the key to them winning the game and it all starts with their leader, Andrew McCutchen.
While he's not big in stature, McCutchen is a 5-tool player that can produce runs and save runs in the field with his speed and simple greatness. Pittsburgh must have a player such as Marte, Walker, or Harrison, come up big in this situation, but McCutchen is the man that they rely upon.
For the season, McCutchen hit .292 with 23 HR and 96 RBI. That said, he managed over a 400 OBP% and that is a statistic that I think is one of the most important. With all of that said, McCutchen is thought to have had a disappointing season. That tells the story.
I look for this two be a low scoring game as you have 41 wins between the starting pitchers, but Jake Arrieta has a decent amount of offensive support on his side in Anthony Rizzo and rising star, rookie Kris Bryant. Look for Arrieta to continue his dominance and for Clint Hurdle to stretch Arrieta out as this is a one and done situation.
MLB Pick: Chicago Cubs -126 at 5Dimes