There’s a pretty good chance home field for the Wild Card Game will be decided this weekend by the two teams vying for it. If the Pirates take this series, they’re probably going to hang on to that top spot. If the Cubs take the series, they’ll have a slim chance. If the Cubs sweep the series, all the better.
These teams played four in Pittsburgh 10 days ago, and the Cubs managed to take three of ’em.
We’re Going Streaking
Since that Pirates series, the Cubs have won a couple more series against the Cardinals and Brewers.
The Pirates also continued winning, taking a fourth straight from the Rockies, and a sixth straight overall.
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Friday, September 25 at 1:20 CT on ABC-7, MLBN.
- Saturday, September 26 at 12:05 CT on FOX.
- Sunday, September 27 at 7:08 CT on ESPN.
And, if you’re not in the blackout region, you can always watch on MLB.tv.
Expected Starters and Lineups
These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.
Starters: Jon Lester (3.46 ERA, 3.07 FIP; 4.09 K/BB), Jason Hammel (3.79 ERA, 3.72 FIP; 4.13 K/BB), Jake Arrieta (1.88 ERA, 2.44 FIP; 4.58 K/BB)
Lineup (so many rotations … ):
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Chris Coghlan/Jorge Soler, RF
- Miguel Montero, C
- Javy Baez/Starlin Castro/Tommy La Stella, 2B
- Addison Russell, SS
Starters: Gerrit Cole (2.64 ERA, 2.64 FIP; 4.57 K/BB), Francisco Liriano (3.41 ERA, 3.24 FIP; 2.85 K/BB), A.J. Burnett (3.15 ERA, 3.26 FIP; 3.00 K/BB)
- Gregory Polanco, RF
- Starling Marte, LF
- Andrew McCutchen, CF
- Aramis Ramirez/Pedro Alvarez, 1B
- Neil Walker, 2B
- Josh Harrison, 3B
- Francisco Cervelli, C
- Jordy Mercer, SS
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
It’s not just since he came back from the oblique injury. You can go all the way back to July 28, and Jorge Soler has been on fire: .310/.384/.506, 10.1% BB rate, 23.2% K rate. That last one is the one that JUMPS out. He has made some real changes, folks, and it’s easy to sleep on his monster offensive upside because SO MANY CUBS have monster offensive upsides, but, seriously, Soler could be a superstar.
Look. I want Jake Arrieta to win the Cy Young, too. That would be fun. But winning the Wild Card Game would be even more fun, so … am I alone in hoping Arrieta shows the Pirates absolutely nothing? Like, mostly fastballs? Mostly a short outing? Yes, try to win, but don’t use your perfect sequencing this time around?
Jon Lester dominated the Pirates last time out, can he do it again?
The Cubs get the Pirates’ best, in terms of the rotation, and the Pirates probably get the Cubs’ best, too. As it should be.
The Pirates’ bullpen remains killer good, so, outside of today’s game against Gerrit Cole, perhaps, you want to score your runs against the starters, rather than just trying to work him out of the game.